Manchester sunset shoot / by Neil Alexander

Manchester sunset shoot by Neil Alexander

Last week I had the pleasure of shooting the delightful Amy once again. I predicted that we were on for a pretty decent sunset, and as such wanted to shoot in a location where we could use the colour of the setting sky as a backdrop. Our planned location had been turned into a temporary screening area for the World Cup, but fortunately I had a plan B. So from the top of the car park behind the G-Mex centre (not the most glam location for a portrait shoot) we had clear line of sight to the setting sun, and a steel staircase construction to use as our platform. Fortunately no park wardens or narky NCP staff this time. I could see right from the get go, that my little SBs were going to have work hard. Fortunately I've just added to my lights with an immaculate condition SB600 off eBay for the princely sum of around £70! (it's in original box with leather sleeve and all manuals!). A test exposure to meter the background got me a nice bluey orange sky at 1/250 @ F22 (probably an hour before sunset), but it left me with total blacks in the foreground. Tried with an ND400, but that left me with too slow an exposure even at 800 ISO, though it wouldn't really have made a great deal of difference - the contrast range was just too much. Oh, and it was pretty windy too up there, so anything on a stand other than a strobe was going to get blown over. We shot a little to get into the stride, and then waited until the sun was a little lower in the sky. By 20 mins to go, I was up to F8, and I figured it was time to get going. With one SB900 to Amy's right, at about 45 degrees to her on 1/8 power, another slightly to her left on 1/16, both bare. I toyed with gelling them to match the ambient, but I wanted a stark contrast in the light. By now I had quite a harsh fairly unflattering cross light on Amy, so I supplemented it with an Orbis on camera (I'm really loving this thing) to add some more flattering fill to fill out the shadows from the cross lights. This was powered by my new SB600 pretty ramped up. The 900s I triggered with Pocket Wizards, and the 600 via it's inbuilt CLS system using the 900s as a trigger. All in all, am quite pleased with the results. For the top image, I played a little in Lightroom adding quite a dramatic vignette which I feel more portrays the scene as I'd envisaged.

Manchester sunset shoot by Neil Alexander

Manchester sunset shoot by Neil Alexander