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2nd March 2017

Guest Blog Post by Damian McGillicuddy, Principal Photographer Olympus

About Damian: Damian’s hard work and dedication has resulted in him earning 7 international Fellowships, holding the title of Master Photographer with the NPS and the Guild of Photographers, being the first photographer to be awarded a Double Masters with the Societies and being one of only 3 individuals to be honoured with the prestigious title of ‘Grand Master’. In 2013, his achievements lead to Damian being instated as Olympus UK’s Principal Photographer and Educator

EVERY METROPOLIS NEEDS A HERO
Using the hähnel MODUS 600RT Speedlight

It is a real honour to be able to come and share some of my thought and insights about photography as a guest blogger on hähnel’s page. Recently, while at The Societies of Photographers International Convention in London we had the pleasure and the privilege of testing the yet to be released hähnel Modus Speedlight. 


One of the critical balances in photography is the practicality, performance, power and portability of your tools and the hähnel Modus has this in spades. On my daily perambulation to the lifts on the ninth floor I was greeted by the view of a London skyline which, I thought, had a Metropolis feel to it. When I had an opportunity to shoot something a little different my thoughts immediately turned to this location, envisaging a Vogue-esq styled, high impact image. The image had to be done with the minimum of fuss, we were after all obstructing the entrance to the elevators. From this location, the view overlooked countless exquisite city building. 

 

To give you a rough idea of the layout of the space available we had a large window at the end of the short corridor, a small return window and wall to the left and behind as the area narrowed, three elevator doors to our right and the entrance of the main corridor behind. So, speed was of the essence if I didn't want to interrupt other guests… or get caught and this is where the hähnel Modus came into its own, producing the speed and endurance needed to work quickly. Good equipment allows a good photographer the speed and ability to express themselves without complexity and the hähnel Modus proved itself in the “Every Metropolis Needs A Superhero” image. 

 

As speed and manoeuvrability were of the essence a decision to forego putting the speed light or any modifiers on lighting stands was made. Instead, I instructed my assistant “H” (not of Steps fame) to handhold the hähnel Modus speedlight, bouncing the light into the corner return of the wall and ceiling, as shown on the diagram. Pointing the flash away from the subject and into the wall this way enabled us to turn a small speedlight into a larger, softer light source whilst diminishing the harshness of the direction. 

 

Normally, being able to work quickly with the speed and endurance needed would require a fully-fledged studio strobe but the Hähnel Modus has the required power in spades and, more importantly, it has the power of fast recycling in abundance too. Rather than waiting the agonising four, fix, six seconds which normal speed lights require at full power one shot after another, second after second the hähnel Modus performed consistently and reliably allowing the allowing the pose of our model, the lovely Lilly Von Pink, and the look and feel of the image to develop organically.

 

The photographic process used was, as our American cousin’s call it, pop and burn. At the time of day when we had the opportunity to shoot the light outside was bright. The available light would have rendered Lilly as a silhouette so an additional light source was needed to illuminate her. Having a small, portable but powerful light like the hähnel Modus enables us to become the picture maker rather than a picture taker. Using the measurement of the natural light the shutter speed was determined, setting it at a speed to allow some of that light into the image. The aperture was determined again from the measurement of the ambient light and we decided on a n aperture that would help beat the shadows and balance the scene and give a little more prominence to the subjecy, our main focal point.With aperture and shutter speed set, at an ISO of 200, I utilised the Vintage Art filter on my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk2 to bring the image to life.

 

So, in short, this image would not have been able to be produced as quickly, easily and as completely without the power and speed of recharge that the hähnel Modus delivers. I always choose the right tool for the job and the hähnel Modus was certainly that this time.

 

Sketches