Photography in motion – Mountain bike performance

Two days ago I went  to one of the hill’s in my town to take a few shots of the guys from my previous “Ten minutes photoshoot” article. They asked me to take some shots during their training session and I was ready as always. The fact that I am mad about shooting action and high speed performance brought me to the idea to put some strobist element in my shoot.  Of  course I had a chance to shoot some video along with the photos but I was unable to bring more gear since we are climbing up the hill so I’ve used what we had at our disposal (a single Samsung smartphone and my Nikon D7000).  Fortunately I had my camera stand in my stand bag and this time I got rid of my shaky hands effect 🙂 but the footage  taken with the smartphone was as shaky as usual.

The hill was high enough to make you go for a beer instead of climbing it and the weather was too hot (30 degrees by Celsius) which is a little bit warmer for the season.  I had to choose from various pathways where I can set up my gear. Tight route’s , steep terrain and lots of trees and nasty branches…something normal for the day of a mountain biker .

I’ve been using only one modifier but this time I’ve put three flashes inside so I can overpower the sun as much as I need. The flashes usually freeze motion but if you combine them along with the available  light you can have some different effects like panning and bring more fill to the subject without destroying the effect.

Using Nd filter shooting in conditions with high contrast where the shadow and the sunlight are too strong might appear to be very tricky . Yet I’ve used Nd2 filter to kill the sunlight a little bit hoping that the light from the flashes will bring some fill light to the background and it did at some point.

The lenses used for the shoot are the Nikkor 35 mm 1.8 AF-s and the Nikkor 28-80 AF D and a wide angle converter.

Panning with strobes for fill

The position of the light is different due to the different places we used to shoot at but mostly it is the diffusing umbrella with the three flashes.  We were there for  4 hours and yet we didn’t have too much shots done since we used to pack and unpack the gear all the time.

Again the same setup

For the next one I’ve used the flashes at full power like I did in the previous shots but this time it was darker around and the flashes actually froze the motion and the background here is not so blurred as it is in the other shots.

Strobes at full power

In the end I had some video footage to work with and I did what I could with what I had  🙂 The  next time  I intend to use a wider lens with more extreme angles to shoot from since I am aware with the terrain already.

So watch the short video now and have fun!

Mountain bikes strobist photoshoot from Oggy Dimitrov on Vimeo.

Oggy Dimitrov

Shooting it: Bubbles

Here we go with another setup information article from me! This time I will talk about one shot I did last year with some bubbles! We did this shoot in a place very close to Osaka, and we were lucky to have that nice blue sky!

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:

So, talking about this shot, I’m using a one light setup for it. My main light was a Canon 580EXII flash used with a 80×60 softbox, set left high from the model. We have been wondering what to do with the bubbles, and figured out that the easiest way to get a good  stream of them was to get a machine for bubbles. So the question when we started shooting was…where to put it! And actually on the photo behind the model there is an assistant who is doing great job, and staying invisible!

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

Strobist info:

Canon 580EXII with a Shoot-through Umbrella – Camera Left (Up)
Triggered by Pocket Wizard II Plus
Assistant with bubbles machine behind her

photographer: Ilko Allexandroff , assistant: Ken Isaka

One more thing here was that we had some direct sunlight behind me while I was shooting, which was also having some influence on the final result. And it was just bright enough to be able to sync the flashes at 1/200 sec. You can see all the settings information, and other behind the stage things on the setup shot above, please check it out!

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

Suffering from unreliable models

Hello everyone ,

I had some unpleasant experience the past few days due to unreliable models who are actually going pro and I had a few clients disappointed without being able to do my job . I had a great ideas for the shoot and I didn’t sleep last night planing the whole shoot from the beginning to the end. I was waiting for four models to appear but none of them arrived and suddenly every single one of them had something else to do. I had to wait for 8 hours because I had an arrangement with potential client and  having arrangement with someone means a lot to me since I’m keeping my word every time. They said that they require to see something in larger scale which will appear to be TFP the first time and after  that will transform to a long term contract. Of course TFP  means that no money are involved. We agreed that we’ll do the shoot which will benefit us in any case even if we don’t get some kind of revenue.  So the word has been given and the arrangement was done.

I had the props and the SFX and a whole bunch of people who are willing to help us.  Unfortunately the owners of the place where we were going to shoot  had no time anymore to wait for any lazy models to appear so I had to pack back my gear and go home decorated like a Christmas tree with all the equipment hanging all over me attached to every possible place on my body. I was like walking studio……a pathetic picture. So at the end of the day I was thinking about which is right and which is wrong and because any further words would be words of anger I’ve found this article explaining exactly the relationship between model and photographer…….

” Probably the most common complaint about beginning models doing TFP is that they are unreliable and sometimes don’t show up for scheduled shoots. The usual reply to a complaint of this sort is that since the model’s not getting paid, she doesn’t have a real obligation to the photographer. This is, bluntly, wrong. The photographer has committed to the shoot. If they did not believe that they were going to have a shoot with that model at that time, they could have scheduled something else. A no-show model represents time and opportunity wasted, and both of those have a very real monetary value. Models with reputations for dependability get callbacks and referrals: models who don’t, don’t. The world of photography is surprisingly close-knit and it doesn’t take long at all for word to get around. “

You can find the whole article here

I am very grateful to Brian Eathan Williams for writing this article !

Respect yourselves as a photographers and make sure to keep your word every time even if you encounter any difficulties being there in time. This counts for the models too. If you really want to be a model you better make sure to keep your word because every time  it is most important than any contract.

Sorry guys ! No material to show today 😦

Oggy Dimitrov

Useful Gear: Bungee Cords

Every photographer have their way of organizing their gear, today I will talk about one small thing I never go on a photoshoot without. This little think is saving me in many situations, so today  I will just mention a couple of the situations I’m using them! Actually there many many more but, so this is gonna be just a teaser to the other features of the bungees, I will upload them soon on my journal, stay tuned to it, I will also update this article when I’m ready with the other things!

So… what am I gonna talk about! Here it is, it’s my precious Bungee Cords! For every photoshoot I have, I will have a bunch of them!

The bungee cords:

I am using the bungees in really a lot of situations when I want to attach something to something, and in many cases they even replace my tripods and flash stands! In this article I will include only one figure, but apart from that they save in many situations! In the figure below I have included some of the ways I’m using them, and believe me this is just a little part of them!

Here you can see how useful they are if for example you need to attach one more flash to your umbrella, or even put a flash on the fence behind the model, or basically everywhere where you can rope them. In some cases I have even attached a few flashes to one umbrella when I need extra power!

Here are some simple examples of the ways I’m using the bungee cords:

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

Ten minutes photoshoot

I was walking in the park along with one of my friends who just bought Nikon 3100. He asked me to show him some stuff about photography and we went to the nearest park place for a few snapshots but ……. I saw those guys with the bikes and asked them to make a few moves so I can take some photos. We had to leave soon and I had only 10 minutes to search for a better location and make the setup. I ran almost few hundred meters and I’ve found a high place. After 4 minutes the light was ready and we started. I told my friend to go and take a video of the process knowing that he really doesn’t know how to operate the camera yet he managed to take a minute long footage which appeared to be almost useful 🙂 Well.. we did what we could ! Have fun !

This is the lighting diagram which shows the simple setup. I was happy that my single flash unit managed to act as a fill against the strong sunlight which actually caused total nightmare regarding the video footage that we took. I didn’t bring the rig platform that I have so the video output appeared awful but still useful enough.

a simple setup with a single flash and diffusing umbrella

To be more specific I’ve made a short simple video of what we did there. You can watch it right now 🙂

Have fun and don’t forget to show us what you do with single flash !

Oggy Dimitrov

Shooting it: Coming Out of Age

Ok, it’s time to write about the setup of some previous shots in our blog, and today I will start with this old shot I did more than year ago! The occasion was that the girl in the photo was becoming 20 which is considered as already being adult in Japan!

I am doing this 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:

Ilko Allexandroff Journal

I had a really big fail on that day, as I forgot to take one of my Pocket Wizards, so I was really about to slap myself very hard, and I was almost about to do only available light shots. Then I rememnered about the optical slave function of my Nikon SB-26s, so I put my Canon EX580II on the body of the camera, and with a snoot pointed to the main Nikon SB-26, I was triggering my flashes! I put the snoot, because I didn’t really want the on-camera flash to interfere in my pictures.

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

Strobist info:

SB-26 with a Shoot-through Umbrella – Camera Left (Up)
SB-26 with a Shoot-through Umbrella – Camera Left (Down)
Triggered by optical slave by an on-camera 580EXII with a snoot (didn’t want the on-camera flash to interfere in the photos)

photographer: Ilko Allexandroff , hairmake: AKI , assistant: Abdul

Coming of Age Day (成人の日 Seijin no Hi) is a Japanese holiday held annually on the second Monday of January. It is held in order to congratulate and encourage all those who have reached the age of majority (20 years old) over the past year, and to help them realize that they have become adults. Festivities include coming of age ceremonies (成人式 seijin-shiki) held at local and prefectural offices, as well as after-parties amongst family and friends.

It is difficult to take pictures on that same day, so with the model we decided to do a separate shoot, and take some pictures in a different day. The hair & make-up in this shoot was by Aki, and assistant was Abdul, so that made it a really fun time!

We were shooting in a bit separated part of Amagasaki, where we defenitely were the attraction of the day, having many people to come and see what we were doing. In the first comment I have some Behind The Stage pictures from the shooting setup and atmosphere, I hope you like them!

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

Retouching ! Why ?

Before we get to the point first we need to talk about why we need to retouch and enhance the subject of a random photo. You have to know that retouching is quite subjective procedure and it is different for everyone because everybody has a different perception of color and shape. Don’t worry about that! This is the most normal thing ever! So following that direction of thoughts you don’t need to be afraid of you being different than the others. Quite the opposite it could be a blessing and you have to embrace your difference. After some time gaining experience you will form your own style and your own workflow. This is the result that we need here and what we are searching for. Eventually you will bring your expretise to a whole new level being self confident and capable. But……..

Why do we need to retouch and enhance an image ? I thought that photography is all about keeping things natural without any intervention !

Well…..there are many people that would say to you that anyone who use to retouch is just incapable photographer which is actually ridiculous because a horrible photo stays a horrible photo no matter how much time you spent to retouch it although you can really make a difference with the enhancement that you apply.
First thing that you have to know here is that you apply your post processing in order to make an image pop according to your taste (like you don’t know that :)).
The second thing however is someone else’s requirements. Ahaaaaa ! Somebody else want us to retouch 🙂 The imaginary person that we are talking about is probably a potential client. A client needs to sell our product along with his own paying us to make it better and he or she knows that people like to buy shiny, polished and well handled stuff. Which itself makes the retouching a commercial activity and like any other commercial activity it is paid, wanted and appreciated where the market requires this exact service. Now we will come to understand that not only our point of view is important but the client’s one is also important even more important than ours since they pay us. So if you want to match the clients requirements you must be capable of doing so with different tools and different approach. However the young photographers who are just beginning their careers are blamed by the established photographers that they rely too much on photoshop which is true at some point. Ok ! to respond to that? Should we decrease the level of software intervention or should we stop retouching at all ? Also we know that the “old” established photographers are people with significant experience and knowledge. How do we have to feel about post production and how to apply it in such manner that the photo will still look natural and yet retouched?

My opinion !

As I said before, people are different and may or may not like our form of expression. But you don’t have to torture yourself about that. If we have to work according to the “old ways”  (shoot and leave it as it is) we have some sort of limitation here and this is no good because it may kill you artisticly. Also trying to be different is not easy anymore due to the increasing number of people calling themselves photographers.  So from know on you should know that you should stick to your style and try to make it better and thus the people should see that you’ve put a lot of effort to produce your work and this is not something to joke about or to criticize easily like many people do.

Top mistakes that photographers do when they retouch photos !

Let us get to the technical issues that appear often in front of us.

1. People often use to soften the skin of the subject too much. Skin softening is good for beauty or glamour photography but it doesn’t mean that it appears natural on every photo that you take. If you are shooting mostly portraiture it is good to know that if you set up your light correctly you may not need additional retouch or may apply just minor corrections and this should be enough. I’ve seen a major changes on the subjects facial shape that it doesn’t resembles the original face anymore which is a disaster.

2. Many photographers are spoiling the pictures using too much the liquify tool in photoshop or other software. This is so because if I take picture of you and the I pull in your ears then enlarge your eyes, make your nose tight and pull down the chin a little bit and then I may apply some correction over your forehead,cheek bones, neck and etc. and finally you will appear to be someone else. An enhanced version of yourself could make you feel embarrassed of your present self. Of course some clients may require this type of corrections although they are not so natural and you can apply them.

Final words.

Be yourself , do your stuff and do everything possible to improve it!

There are a lot more stuff here that we can discuss but I”ll leave it to you to ask the questions and give the answers. If you feel that you have some thoughts that about that topic feel free to post a comment below.


Oggy Dimitrov