I recently got a chance to shoot in Oxford with a new male model Indroneel Chatterjee. It was a somewhat chilly evening in November and with the shoot starting closer to 5pm it was also dark. Indroneel is a truly generous and characterful model and as a consultant in consumer neuroscience and neuromarketing he’s always got interesting things to talk about.

Warmed up by the light of the flash

Model Indroneel Chatterjee photographed in Oxford city centre in the evening after dark.

Following my own advice of “when it’s dark raise the ISO” would have resulted in high ISO noise pictures of a great subject. So I broke out the flash and looked to use as low an ISO as possible, wide apertures on the EF 135mm f/2L lens and barely handhold-able shutter speeds. I also added a slight warming gel to the main flash – possibly for the first time I used the lighter of two Canon supplied gels with my Speedlite 600EX-RT. I rarely use the Canon gel holder, as I prefer to use velcro speedstraps from Honl.

I have set my Speedlite 600EX-RTs to ignore the sensor that detects the gels in the Canon gel holder by setting P.Fn 5 to 1 on my flashes.

Dark nights and autofocus

Model Indroneel Chatterjee photographed in Oxford city centre in the evening after dark.

Several of the shots were challenging – it was really dark – and the EOS 5D Mark III was struggling for focus when used with the ST-E3-RT on the hotshoe. Switching to a Speedlite 600EX-RT on the camera as a controller gave me an AF assist beam that helped a little. A handheld LED torch also worked well to help focus in the dark too. I do find the balance of the camera with the Speedlite 600EX-RT on the hotshoe is not so comfortable as with the much smaller and lighter ST-E3-RT. Maybe the third party ST-E3-RT clone from Yongnuo with the built-in AF assist beam is worth a look?

Please have a read of Indroneel’s blog for a model perspective of the shoot.

I seem to have a thing for chilly November shoots in Oxford and warming things up with a gelled Speedlite as this past blog post attests.

This shoot was initially conceived by fellow photographer Julia Cleaver and she offered me the opportunity to shoot too. Plus it is easier to shoot with multiple Speedlites on location when you have a voice activated light stand. I have worked with Julia several times in the past, and she has recently switched up to a pair of Speedlite 600EX-RT flashes and controls them with a Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT, so I was mostly there to help her with some location lighting guidance with multiple Speedlite flashes.