Interview with Portrait Photographer Ashly Deskins

Next in our series spotlighting LumoPro Ambassadors and their work, is Ashly Deskins, a portrait and lifestyle photographer from Northern California.

Ashly began taking photos in 2009, as a shared hobby with her husband (then boyfriend). Ashly started off on the opposite side of the camera – standing in as a model while her husband learned about off camera flash.

Woman in green dress

Photo by Ashly Deskins

After her initial exposure (see what we did there?) to photography, Ashly decided to add some photography classes to her college courseload as she pursued a Bachelor’s degree at the The Ohio State University. Ashly says “That’s when I fell in love with photography and really felt like it was something I wanted to pursue long term.”

Family portrait on a beach

Photo by Ashly Deskins

Ashly has now shot everything from families and weddings to burlesque and boudoir, and even some wildlife. She refuses to settle on one area of photography, saying “I was once told that I should pick one genre and focus on that, but I could never stick to that rule. I shoot what I love, and I love what I shoot.”

Ashly thrives on the challenge of always shooting something new and different. She feels that constantly adjusting to new subjects and shooting scenarios is the only way for her to continue to grow as a photographer.

Senior portrait in the woods

Photo by Ashly Deskins

Ashly’s work centers mostly on portraiture. “I love shooting portraits that make you feel something when you look at it. It’s not just about the lighting or composition, but about the emotion the image gives.”

She says that the opportunity to meet new people is both one of her favorite aspect and the most challenging part of shooting portraits. “I meet many of my clients for the first time on the day of their session. Without meeting face-to-face before their shoot, I don’t know how our different personalities will work together. Luckily so far, I’ve had nothing, but amazing experiences.”

Couple standing by curtain outside

Photo by Ashly Deskins

Though human portraits make up the bulk of Ashly’s work, she has also had the opportunity to create images of some furrier subjects. In 2014, Ashly began documenting the wildlife around her apartment complex – specifically the squirrels. This simple photo exercise, turned into a much more involved project with full-blown sets that Ashly designs herself.

Squirrels interacting with photo studio scene

Photo by Ashly Deskins

Ashly’s workflow is very different when working with her fuzzy friends, versus a regular portrait session. “With wildlife, I don’t use flash, as I don’t want to scare the animals. Using off camera flash also requires a subject that can take direction, and I only have so much control over where the squirrels move and how they ‘pose’.” Ashly points out that that the squirrels are in control of how the shoot will go.

Squirrel playing with camera

Photo by Ashly Deskins

Because of the wide variety of subjects Ashly shoots, it’s important for her to have equipment that is flexible and holds up well. For her lighting, Ashly uses the LP180R flash and the Phottix Odin trigger. Of the LP180R, Ashly says “It was the first piece of equipment I used from LumoPro, and I know that it’s just going to perform. It’s a workhorse. My camera can miss focus, my memory cards can corrupt (and have), but my LP180R? None of that – It. Just. Works.”

For photographers just getting started, Ashly recommends getting out every day and shooting and not to worry so much about social media. “It doesn’t have to be shared. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Take the pressure out of getting that flawless shot and remind yourself that not everything has to be posted for the world to see.” She says that shooting every day allows you to familiarize yourself with your camera and work on the basics, like composition and exposure, while adjusting to different environments, different lighting conditions, different subject matter.

Woman in dress in front of bridge

Photo by Ashly Deskins

When asked about her favorite image that she has taken, Ashly says she prefers to focus on her next shot. “I truly feel like my favorite image is always my next image. I’m always trying to challenge and push myself every time I pick up my camera.”

Ashly credits her love for travel and adventure with influencing her work. “I am always seeking new places to photograph and experimenting with new ways to add fun to the shoot.” She hopes to take her photography show on the road and photograph a wedding or couple in Iceland or even Ireland.

Pregnant woman in red dress

Photo by Ashly Deskins

She adds that her obsession for home makeover shows and decorating translates into her passion for creating styled shoots with props. “I really love doing styled shoots and planning a shoot down to the last detail. Renting furniture, getting flowers, getting the subject’s attire just right – really creating a whole other world and scene within a beautiful setting. It’s like creating my own fairytale.”

Ashly Deskins Dancer

Photo by Ashly Deskins

Lightning Round: Getting to Know You with Ashly Deskins!

LumoPro: If you could spend one day with any photographer (living or dead), who would it be and why?

Ashly Deskins: This is really difficult, because there are so many that I would love to pick. However, if I had to choose, it would be Gregory Crewdson. I have admired his work since college. I love the lighting and storytelling of his work. The detail in each image is incredible. I feel like I pull some of my inspiration from his process of planning, even if it’s for a single image.

LP: If you had a career other than photography, what would it be?

AD: It would be working with animals in some capacity. I would love to have a sanctuary or animal rescue.

LP: If you had to choose one piece of lighting gear to have during a zombie apocalypse, what would it be and why?

AD: Either a flash or a light stand. I feel like the flash may temporarily startle them, slowing them down. However, a light stand could probably come in handy as a weapon.

LP: If given the chance, would you rather photograph the Olympics (Winter or Summer), the X-Games, a polo match with the entire royal family or a professional beer pong tournament?

AD: A polo match with the entire royal family, for sure! They are already so well photographed, I feel like it would be a fun challenge to photograph them in my own style. They all seem to have such unique personalities, so it could definitely be a challenge to show their personalities through my eyes. Plus, Prince Harry is a very talented photographer himself! I feel like we’d be BFFs.

AD Couple Arcade Portrait

Photo by Ashly Deskins

A big thanks to Ashly for her time. You can find more of Ashly’s work on her website – http://www.thegreenelephantlifestyle.com. You can also follow her on Instagram – @greenelephantphoto

All images by Ashly Deskins and used with permission.

New from LumoPro – LP BLACK Collection

We are thrilled to announce our newest release of the line of game-changing products from LumoPro. Coming soon is the LP BLACK Collection.

This limited edition collection consists of a range of all black lighting products with a revolutionary sable finish – for the photographer who wants to stand out. LP BLACK products feature sleek design with an onyx surface that will set your kit apart.

Each product is specifically designed for extreme low visibility, with the noir patina keeping others on set focused on you, and not your gear. The LP BLACK Collection’s innovative formula is made with 100% pure dark matter, sourced from supermassive black hole 3C75.

LP BLACK Collection

Current product selection in the LP BLACK Collection

We studied thousands of variations of black to find something powerful, but not ominous. Toned down, but not gloomy. Shadowy, but not somber. We think we’ve gotten it just right with the LP BLACK Collection.

LumoPro product designers were fully committed to making this collection a radical edition to the LumoPro line. They spent dozens of hours cloistered in closets, buried in basements and engrossed by Earth’s ether to find that pitch-perfect black.

LP BLACK Collection

Grip gear from the LP BLACK Collection

Each piece of the LP BLACK Collection features an Auto-Sensing Stealth Mode, which will automatically activate the ink-like coating to allow your gear to blend into even the darkest abyss.

“We constantly hear from photographers who are tired of flashy lighting equipment that distracts their assistants and their clients,” says LumoPro Brand Manager, Janae Miller. “The LP BLACK Collection solves that problem with a range of top-quality, pitch-black lighting products that fade right into the background. Unless it’s white.”

LP BLACK Studio

LP BLACK Collection products in a studio setup

The LP BLACK Collection currently consists of six products, but there will be more pieces added to the line later this year. So add a sense of mystery and sophistication to your next photo shoot with the LP BLACK Collection from LumoPro.

***WARNING: LP BLACK is so black that it may cause a complete absorption of visible light. You may be required to increase your flash’s power level when using LP BLACK products.

The LP BLACK Collection will be available starting on April 1. Find more information at http://lumopro.com/lp-black

The Wide World of Light Modifiers

We at LumoPro get a lot of questions about lighting. “How much weight can I put on my light stand?” “Why won’t the zoom on my flash change?” “When will a firmware upgrade be available to make my flash compatible with my drone?”

But one of the most common (and subjective) questions we get is “What modifier should I use?”. This one’s a toughie, as it’s dependent on quite a few variables. So today I’m going to talk about a few different types of modifiers, and the benefits and drawbacks of each one.

Small Modifiers

First up are small modifiers, like the LightSwitch. These modifiers usually mount directly on the flash itself and provide reflection or diffusion for the light your flash is putting out.

The biggest benefit of small modifiers is their size. They can be used on- or off-camera, squeezed into tight spaces on location and don’t take up much space or weight in your bag. Generally, small mods are very easy to set up, as it pretty much just involves attaching the modifier directly to the flash head. They are also a low cost option, with products like the Rogue FlashBender, starting at just $19.

Mannequin shot with LumoPro LightSwitch

Shot at ISO 400, 1/200, f/8
Flash power: 1/8
Flash zoom: 70mm
Flash-to-subject distance: 24″

The downside of small modifiers is that you are getting less surface area reflecting the light. For shooting smaller subjects, this is not a concern as the relative size of the light will still be big enough to provide soft, even light. But the lack of size will not work well for full body shots or multiple subjects.

Relative light size example

Bigger light (relative to the size of your subject) equals softer light!

Umbrellas

Moving on to umbrellas! These are most people’s de facto first modifier, and for good reason. Several reasons actually. Umbrellas are inexpensive and don’t take up much space. They create a larger relative light size, which means you’re getting softer (some would say more pleasing) light. Plus, umbrellas are a cinch to setup. If you’ve ever used a rain umbrella, you’ve already got it down.

Umbrellas are also incredibly versatile. There are a wide range of sizes available, and some models, like our 3-in-1 Umbrella, come with a variety of diffusion options in one compact package. Challenge yourself to only shooting with one light and one umbrella for a month – you’ll be amazed at the diversity of the images you can create.

Mannequin shot with white shoot through umbrella

White Shoot Through Umbrella
Shot at ISO 400, 1/200, f/8
Flash power: 1/8
Flash zoom: 70mm
Flash-to-subject distance: 24″

White Bounce Umbrella

White Bounce Off Umbrella
Shot at ISO 400, 1/200, f/8
Flash power: 1/8
Flash zoom: 70mm
Flash-to-subject distance: 24″

Downside? An umbrella is basically a light grenade. You don’t have much control over light spill, and you are going to have light going all over the place.

There are certainly ways to mitigate this, like by feathering your umbrella or using flags, but it’s important to understand all the same.

Softboxes

Next up are softboxes. These are the workhorses for many studio photographers. Softboxes are commonly found in four shapes: rectangle, strip*, octa and square**. Within those shapes there is a wide range of sizes available. You’ll want to choose the shape and size that work best for the subjects you shoot most often.

*Yes, we know it’s still technically a rectangle.  **YES, we know all squares are technically rectangles. Enough with the geometrical semantics already!

Examples of softbox shapes

Octaboxes, rectangles, stripboxes – oh my!

Softboxes offer lots of control over the direction of your light. Provided you know how to properly position your softbox, you’ll have few issues with light spill. Even fewer, if you use a grid with your softbox. Not only will a grid cut down even further on spill, but it will also give a more contrasty look to your light.

There are two main drawbacks to using softboxes. The first is longer setup time. Putting together a softbox, especially on location, is definitely more involved than popping open an umbrella. Some models, like LumoPro’s full range of softboxes, include features to make setup a much smoother process.

Softbox zipper makes setup quick and easy

Softboxes are also a larger investment than small modifiers or umbrellas. Not only is the cost of the softbox itself higher, but you will also need to think about how you will mount the box to your stand, whether you are using speedlights or monolights. Many photographers find the added cost worth it for what they find to be a “better” quality of light and more control.

Beauty Dish

Finally, we have the beauty dish. The beauty dish (some people just call it a reflector, but we think that’s confusing) is commonly used for, you guessed it, beauty shots. This modifier is very popular with portrait photographers for the distinctive, contrasty light it produces, which highlights detail in a pleasing way.

The light from a beauty dish is direct, but softer than a bare flash. This is because the beauty dish is a reflective modifier, not a diffusion modifier. Meaning the light bounces around the dish before hitting the subject, but does not go through any type of diffusion material. Unless you put a diffusion sock on the dish, then it’s both reflective AND diffusion! You can also add a grid to most beauty dishes to add even more contrast to your light.

Mannequin shot with beauty dish

Beauty Dish with 2 Flashes
Shot at ISO 400, 1/200, f/8
Flash power: 1/8
Flash zoom: 70mm
Flash-to-subject distance: 24″

Mannequin shot with beauty dish + diffusion sock

Beauty Dish + Diffusion Sock with 2 Flashes
Shot at ISO 400, 1/200, f/8
Flash power: 1/8
Flash zoom: 70mm
Flash-to-subject distance: 24″

Mannequin shot with beauty dish + grid

Beauty Dish + Grid with 2 Flashes
Shot at ISO 400, 1/200, f/8
Flash power: 1/8
Flash zoom: 70mm
Flash-to-subject distance: 24″

There are two tradeoffs when working with a beauty dish. First, is price. While the LumoPro beauty dish model is extremely reasonable, it is still more of an investment than an umbrella and even many softboxes. However, if you’re after that beauty dish look, it’s well worth the cost.

The other challenge of a beauty dish is transportation. Both the size and fragility of a beauty dish can make it difficult to get your beauty dish from place to place – especially if you’re flying. Your best bet is to get a case for your beauty dish and do your best to protect the dish from bumps and bruises.

Conclusion

There are plenty of modifier options that haven’t been covered here, and new ones pop up every day! The best way to choose the right modifier for you is to consider what factors are important to you (size, cost, ease of use) and what kind of subjects you shoot most often. And if you still have questions, our support team is always happy to help evaluate your needs and make a recommendation.

New Accessories from LumoPro!

We’ve recently launched three new accessories to make your gear bag even more handy. First up is the LP681 Male 1/4”-20 to Male 1/4”-20 Adapter, which connects accessories with female 1/4”-20 threads together.

This simple brass adapter is perfect for rigging video equipment and features a hex nut center for easy tightening. Attach the adapter to your camera, radio trigger, microphone or even the side 1/4”-20 mount on your LP180!

Next, we are introducing our own line of gaffer tape! If you’ve been photographing for long, you’ve probably run into a problem that can be solved with gaff tape. This matte black tape is easy to tear by hand and won’t leave residue on whatever surface you adhere it to.

We’re kicking things off with two sizes – LP729 1″ x 8 yd and LP730 2″ x 50 yd. Both sizes are currently available in black and can serve a wide variety of purposes.

The 1” roll’s small size and weight gives you all the handy benefits of having gaff tape on hand, without the extra bulk in your bag. This tiny tape is even small enough to carry around in your pocket.

The 2” roll is ideal for heavy duty or high volume use, such as hanging backdrops or taping down cables. Keep a roll in your gear bag, or wrap a long piece around the leg of your light stand or tripod and tear off shorter lengths as you need it.

Whether you need to attach gels to a flash, tape down cables or just create an impromptu adhesive bandage, this gaffer tape has you covered.

All three new LumoPro products can be purchased from our authorized dealers worldwide!

Quick Fill Solution for Empty Sandbags

The age-old struggle: you have modifiers; the wind has force. And that’s how you end up with an unintentional (and unwanted) sail when shooting outdoors. What can you do about it, you ask? Well, sandbags are a good start. While a sandbag won’t reverse the sail effect, it will help to prevent your light stand from falling over in the first puff of wind.

LP515 Empty Sandbag (15lb Cap)

Behold, a sandbag. Holder-down of wind-blown light stands.

Empty sandbags, like the LumoPro LP515, are simple to use, help to secure your setup and are pretty inexpensive. This kind of sandbag has zippers on either side that allow you to fill the sandbag with whatever you fancy.

Empty sandbag with zippers open

Check out that double zip action!

But once filled, those suckers are heavy (kind of the point, I know). So now you have a new problem – you have a way to stabilize your stands, but you’re hauling around extra weight equivalent to the average 2 year old.

Sandbag over the leg of a light stand

Just a sandbag hanging out.

One solution is simple, but brilliant at the same time – fill your sandbags with bottled water. Think about it. You already have water bottles on location anyway for your subject, crew or assistant (because YOU are a kind and thoughtful photographer). You can use those bottles for ballast in your sandbags and keep your shoot participants happy with refreshing beverages.

The best part? You don’t have to pack heavy sand bags back to the car! (Just don’t forget to gather up the empties. No one likes a litterbug!)

Plus, you get to avoid the hassle and mess of filling the sandbags with sand or gravel. Easy. Clean. Thoughtful. It’s a win-win-win.

Sandbag hanging on boom arm

Now obviously, this isn’t the perfect solution for every situation. If you’re working in a hot environment, your subject will probably appreciate water from a cooler more than one that’s been baking in the sun. In those cases, extra grip equipment, like clamps or gripheads, also work great.

So there you go. An easy tip to make your sandbag slinging easier. Do you have a creative solution for filling sandbags or dealing with flyaway light stands? Let us know in the comments, or post a shot to Instagram and give us a tag!

Garrett Martin Shoots High-Flying Ballerinas

This is a guest blog by Garrett Martin. All images and media used with permission.

I remember a day… One when we had to carry a million pounds of lights and batteries to beat the sun on location. You’d get stuck shooting 1/200 at f16 with your 70-200mm just to keep that “narrow” DOF look, but still control the light no matter where you go. Oh, those were the… what am I saying?! I don’t miss that at all. I’m sure my assistants don’t miss lugging around all that gear either!

Early on I had made the switch to LumoPro when they introduced the LP180 flash. Let’s face it, sometimes I’m a little rough with my equipment [ed. note: sometimes, Garrett? Two words for you: ceiling fan… 🙂 ]. After a few repair bills from my old *BIG-BRAND* speedlights, it was an easy choice to invest in flashes that were a fraction of the cost and that packed in all the same functionality – even more in some cases. I rationalized it to be cheaper to just buy a new speedlight when I smash them to smithereens!

When LumoPro dropped the LP180R flash with the high speed sync, this was a game changer. Being able to shoot f1.8 in direct sunlight is a dream. I ditched pounds of equipment for speedlights that will beat the sun and keep my assistant from sweating all over my model when I want some beautiful clam shell lighting in the middle of a field on a cloudless day at noon… why not?! I can!

High flying in the sunshine

I cut my teeth in the wedding industry, but find myself doing much more commercial work lately. One of my main clients, Explore Licking County, definitely keeps me on my toes. We’re always cooking up something new and exciting to shoot. Recently, we’ve been pulling together ideas to better promote The Arts in Licking County. “Art Lives Here” was the brainchild of Dan and Carol from Explore Licking County, and it was my job to bring it to life, visually.

The idea grew from the need to fill ad space in a local theater flyer that would run this year. We wanted to take performing art off the stage and into the county. After a good round of brainstorming and a model search post on social media, we had our locations and ballerinas.

Advertisement for Explore Licking County

Advertisement for Explore Licking County Photo by Garrett Martin

As you can see in the video, my assistant never breaks a sweat! During the shoot we were in bright direct sunlight, in the shadows of the alley and in the light of sunset on a river bed. Logistically, a lighting nightmare, but with my LP180R’s it was a breeze. Add in the ability to control everything with my Phottix Odin transmitter – I never have to leave my camera, and I can completely change my lighting in 2 seconds.

To say I love my LP’s is an understatement. Mixed with the right modifier, I have a studio anywhere, and it doesn’t take carrying crates of equipment onto location to get the job done.

Garrett Martin is a wedding, commercial and portrait photographer based out of Central Ohio. As a self taught photographer, he’s had a camera in his hand as long as he can remember. Garrett has been the owner and lead photographer at Martin Digital since 2004. To see more of Garrett’s work, visit http://martindigital.co/.

Gina Manning’s Conceptual Fashion Shoot with LumoPro Modifiers

A big part of fashion photography is making your images stand out, and one major contributing element to a unique look is lighting. Fashion photographer Gina Manning recently used LumoPro modifiers to achieve the edgy, cinematic look she wanted. All photos by Gina Manning and used with permission.

Model with metal head piece

Photo by Gina Manning

Gina used a combination of the LumoPro beauty dish, octabox and stripboxes to create a variety of intriguing images for her conceptual “La Reine Des Dieux” shoot. The video below gives a behind the scenes look at how the shoot came together and shows the gear in action!

Gina will be hosting a release party for the full set of images in a few weeks. If you are in the Boston area, be sure to get out and see the collection in its entirety. Find more info and RSVP here!

Release party August 5th, 5-9 PM, 460B Harrison Ave, Boston

See the full set of images and hang out with Gina!

GinaManning_02

Photo by Gina Manning

About Gina Manning

Gina is a high-concept fashion photographer fascinated with telling intriguing stories. She brings a cinematic quality to every shoot she designs; from creating atmospheres that set a surreal tone to selecting models with character to tell the perfect story. For her, it’s about the collaboration of gorgeous clothes and gorgeous ideas.

Her subject matter is largely focused on the concept and power of a confident and beautiful woman. Always with an obsession of the subconscious and the control that the mind has over an individual, she’s constantly incorporating the things that keep her up at night in her photographs.

Over the years she has honed in on a style that captivates the eye with light, color and texture. Gina believes in creating new worlds for fashion to exist outside of the ordinary.

You can find more of Gina’s work at www.ginamanning.com.