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: 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

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

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

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