Discover the secrets to amazing model photography & what is Neil's real name?
Share - Is Neil magnificently awesome or just awkwardly bland?
Inspire - NYC model photography that is out of this world!
Create - White balance magic & how to shoot a wedding with one flash.
What is Neils real name?
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Johny & Brent
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In this episode:
(2:12) Immigrating from South Africa
(3:03) The Tangent Spot
(4:00) The Unusual Punch
(5:57) The room lighting is the sun
(6:03) Positioning in relations to the light and the background
(6:25) Interesting, complimentary and not “jarring” background
(10:50 ) Directing and being systematic
(12:09) Avoiding the square
(14:00) Showing what you want is key
(15:56) Fast shutter speed
(17:25) Neil’s real name
(18:19) One camera flash to light the whole room
(20:20) People are too afraid to be bold
What is Neil's real name?
- name is not really Neil
- different in driver’s license
- keep that as a secret
- only a few people know
- South African living in New York
- a stay at home dad
- television broadcast operations in Africa
- do what I love which is photography
Inspire - NYC model photography that is out of this world!
Create - White balance magic & how to shoot a wedding with one flash.
Discover the Secrets to Amazing Model Photography
Johny: Hey what’s up? Its Johny here and welcome to another episode of the SIC show. And as always I’m super pumped to be here and I’m here with my main man B. How are you feeling my brother?
Johny: Just awesome, this week on the show we interviewed Neil VN and find out if Neil V is magnificently awesome or awkwardly bland.
Brent: That’s so funny.
Johny: I know.
Brent: And he’s gonna inspire us with some amazing images from New York City and model that’s out of this world. Well 2 models actually and then in the create section he’s gonna show us how he uses his white balance magic and how to photograph a wedding using one flash.
Johny: That’s epic man and guys don’t forget to check out our free courses. Click the link below and get started today. Let’s get into it.
Magnificently Awesome or Awkwardly Bland
Brent: Neil, so share something with us not many people know about you.
Neil: See this is tough. I couldn’t think of anything specific. Well number one my name is not really
Neil. There’s something else in my driver’s license. We will keep that as a secret. A few people know.
Brent: Oh okay.
Neil: So actually my personal Facebook is often that I’m having a mild extensional processed today that in people help. I’ve been asked to take part in podcast and a lot of questions I need to come up with something interesting about myself. So I was asked like in between feeling magnificent awesome in some days and other days feel awkwardly bland and unaccomplished. So I asked people if they input what do they think I should mention. So obviously this went off the rails after a while.
Brent: I think I actually saw that Facebook post and there were quite a few things in there that you may not want to put on this interview but that’s good. So you’re South African living in New York right now?
Neil: No, New Jersey just 3 miles.
Brent: Awesome, oh that’s something really interesting because I’m South African living in Australia.
Neil: I used to work in a television broadcast operations in Africa and we immigrated. I was a stay at home dad for a few years. And when I got the role of permits I wanna get back to broadcasting or do what I love so I go with photography and picked it up and worked my ass off and it’s coming together. I feel like I’m on the edge of maybe being able to make this a full time career.
Brent: Oh I think you’re way passed that. Now you’re super successful. I have been watching you online for a while. So that’s awesome. Well thanks for sharing that with us.
NYC Model Photography that is out of this World!
Brent: Alright Neil so inspire us with some of your amazing images. And I’ll look at them on my screen here.
Neil: So, my one website is called the Tangent Blog where I’ve got about a thousand articles on photography and I write tutorials and reviews and so on. And this is one of the images that I shot for the review of the Pro Photo V2 flash and I hired the model with model I work with very often. We have a rhythm together. We kind of know what the other one wants, I rented a dress location and I shot this. I’m using a Pro Photo V2. It’s got a fair amount of punch to it and a 35 mm 1.4 lens it just gives a very unique look where I was able to pull in the city and this is one of those images or sequence of images where, you know sometimes you look at a photograph and you go “man, I wish I was that good” that I could take photographs looks this awesome and this first photograph, it was me “wow, this image really has unusual punch for me” and that makes me proud and excited that I took an image that really works as well. Two more of this and the photography itself are very simple. I think my photography is pretty straight forward in this it’s just 35/1.4 lens which is accessible to photographers. And the Pro Photo V2 light which gives a fair amount of choice in high speed sync. So, I can get really nice lighting at a wide aperture and incorporate the city. So, the technique itself is not unusual but for me it’s just a combination of interest kind of shadow side and buildings turn blue and there’s contrast with the yellow taxi cabs and there were just something in the sequence of images that really worked for me. Perhaps, it’s one of those moments we’re feeling on the cast of another level and things like “wow, ok I can do this now. I can do this now”. So, I think through constantly looking at this and tripping away to a point where things really make sense technically and things hang together and you can pull things off very easily that makes images that have least kind of punch far easier to get. So, I’m rumbling.
Brent: No, that’s great! I’m loving it Neil! I’ve been following your work and you shoot some beautiful, beautiful portraits and I’m just loving these images especially the cool dress and the shadow side. Looks like you’ve got the model backlit and I love that first one where you framed her between buildings like that and her pose is just beautiful with her arms kind of following the outline of the dress.
Neil: Now the room lighting is the sun.
Neil: Pretty much it’s the position of where a matter of where I positioned her in relations to the light and the background and as I’ve said, a lot of my photography is really simple. Actually all of my photography is really simple. When I do photo session like this on occasion now obviously this a shot for myself not for the client. Needs amount of freedom and I always look at the background first. The background has to be interesting or complementary or simple or not “jarring”. Here it was easier with a pretty wide aperture length just through background especially out of focus and then I make sure the background works, the background is complimentary, I’ll make sure I’m not fighting against the existing light and I just pump it up with off camera lighting. I keep it a very simple, logical step by step where I can be sure the images will at the release be successful on occasion the magic happens and that happens. So, I wanna show another image.
Neil: Okay, again it’s the warm tones and the cold tones and here used is female lights on the model which was I put in a tungsten gel and it was actually daylight tungsten
Brent: Is that behind her?
Neil: No, it’s in front of her.
Brent: Okay, right.
Neil: Now I have it shining on her face. You can see that on her nose... The shadow of the nose... It’s very sharp. Actually, it’s a small light. It’s a few inch wide which gives it the Hollywood glamour lighting.
Neil: By putting the incandescent job... I take my camera’s white balance to incandescent so, that now becomes neutral. The background is taking a lot from the light which I didn’t draw which now goes blue because it’s daylight.
Neil: And the background on the wall is a little devise. The light blasted we’ve put in a go-go. With the pattern, there’s a star pattern so it’s flashing into the background with a pattern. Two light sources. One is flash and two is light and both of their white balance gives you a real. And if you look at the comparison shot kind of a full head shot you can see that it’s a blank wall but all these accommodations. What really hangs together is that it’s a warm light and it’s not neutral and the daylight balance light sources. The two daylight sources are two very different light sources. One is continues and one is flash. What I really like is I set the model up. I just want to make sure everything is balanced, I took a shot at her shoulder and she said “where did that come from?” There’s only a blank grey wall behind her. There’s nothing and she didn’t see me set up that. You can see that in the background the flash from that little light bulb. She didn’t see me do that. So she had no idea where the starburst pattern came from. So, that was my little throw. But again, it’s just a few simple elements that are systematically put together. The idea of “hmmm, let me try this.” And again, it’s the different colors that’s the... Let me add. Here’s, let me make it blue... So, again, it’s systematic put together. All we added is the interested background and I have my moment with flattering and the outcome has to be complimentary. So, it’s just a very simple way of building up an image whether if it’s on location or in the studio. Take care of again, the background. The wide background. Ask yourself what your model composition has to work and in this way you can always be sure of an image that works regardless. Now, whether it’s a little genius or something really spectacular that’s what you will have to work with but on this way, at the minimum I can be sure that the portrait actually works. At this point I confer simply because I keep doing this algorithm.
Brent: That’s awesome! And you know, I’m loving those images. They’re just amazing. You know what really I love about your photography other than the perfect lighting and the background is the way you pose the models. I mean, they’re just beautifully posed! I looked at that... The close up shot, you know the kind of... The head and shoulders with her hand and her fingers are like kind of, you know... The dancing finger pose on her shoulder or her bicep, just love it! There’s just something about it!
Directing in Photography
Neil: The posing here is systematic. Now, with the previous model and Lisa are both alike in the posing but she doesn’t know where I’m getting the frame so I have to adjust her pose and I found that with newer models, they tend to move too fast. They’re feeling the pressure to give me something whereas what I want is “stop, give me something, stop and I’ll fix that and if there’s nothing to work with we’ll change it until there’s something, okay now move your hand” and such. And it’s a few basic things that I work with and that photograph with Jessica, the one tin the studio with starburst behind her, she has a way of trying her head back on a pose and then there’s a little line on the neck and you see too much of the unsettled chin and I wanted the other one and I have to tell her how to pose and how to move and all that in the studio I use my hand to show her how to put, drop your chin, move your head over and etc. I had her move her head so there’s not quite short lighting. Some have short lighting and normal lighting. But I want a flattering one and I just have her shoulder into the light. Now, her hand and her arm, if you do that, let me tilt the camera a little bit. It becomes a big square object even with an elegant small framed woman it becomes a big square object right on her hand there so I had her move her hand, move her hand, move her hand until it’s set because with the hands also, if this is straight, it becomes a long object which looks weird. But the moment it is curved, there’s a shape that you can work with and don’t want the back of the hand coz that’s again a square block. So, tilt her hand, give it a bit of a fingers, etc. and then to just very elegant. We worked through that pose often in a minute by minute till we build it up till we have it.
Brent: That’s great! You’re directing it the whole time, are you?
Neil: I’m directing her an oh with the other one, the photo shoot on location for Lisa there’s a behind the scenes there that people can watch and you can hear me direct her and it’s just “move your hand, give me something, move your hands up” because if for example your model is working and she drops her hands to her side she might be anticipating a vertical shot whereas if I have a horizontal shot, then you know how tight it is so, I might asked her to put her hands at her front and do something.
Neil: So, you can hear how I talk to the models. It comes in streams of instructions, changing things and encouragement. The photo op of Jessica in the studio is perhaps some more meticulously posed than normal. It’s more on just fine tuning, the pose given to me. If you work with a wedding couple, people have no idea how to present themselves. They just stand straight in front of the camera and it’s up to you photographer to do a few basic adjustments. So, much of these aren’t difficult to do. Put your weight on the back foot; turn your body and some small adjustments. But really the key here is I show them what I want. Even with a model. And there’s a sudden humor obviously because I’m a big bulky guy and elegant.
Brent: And you’re posing.
Neil: It looks silly but it makes them laugh and it breaks the ice and it builds up the rapport. Wedding clients, whether it might be; you as a photographer have to pose them, and direct them, guide them and if you start telling yourself “I’m not into posing, it’s all natural” I feel you’re cheating your clients out of a better experience because with a few simple tweaks you can make your clients present themselves better than they would have. But see, it’s your obligation as a photographer to just do something, help them.
Brent: I agree.
Neil: Show them. Use your hands, use your body and tell them to do whatever you are doing. And it’ll be a lot of control over how to present themselves.
Shooting at a Fast Shutter Speed
Brent: Yeah, I totally agree, Neil and I’ve found when I look at great photographers photographing models or weddings, it seems they have very good communication skills. They can communicate what they want from the model really easily either by merrying the model you know by posing, doing the thing and doing that in front of the model or just directing them with the hands or the voice and I think that’s very important. A lot of photographers don’t realize how important it is to be able to direct a model effectively and the other question I have for you Neil, just going back to the ProPhoto V2 Lighting use on the first image where you’ve got the model backlit with the sun and then popping in the lighting obviously on our right hand side of the model’s left. Now, you said you’re shooting at a pretty fast shutter speed coz I know you shooting a F1.4 which means that you’re shutter speed are pretty high and it’s obviously around 200th of a second sync speed. What are you shooting at?
Neil: Well, these images, the three of them were 2000th of a second up to approximately 4000th of a second at a hundred ISO. One is actually with the ISO 64 just about 2000-4000 of a second and around 100 ISO.
Brent: And the lights can sync at that speed?
Neil: Lights can sync at that speed. Now, the ProPhot V1 has an extra stuff of choice which helps but with the ProPhoto V2 I have to be fairly close to the model so the light was just over my shoulder but it helped with the ultra-wide angle lens.
Brent: Yeah, and what kind of light modified do you have in the front? Do you have the Beauty Dish or?
Neil: No, that was just a simple; I think it was a 1x3 or 2x3 softbox; a minimum size soft box.
Brent: Ok perfect! Awesome!
Neil: The Beauty Dish is not something I often use on location. They get dinged very quickly.
Neil: They get dinged. If you take a Beauty Dish on location you can be 100% sure you’ll ding it.
Brent: Okay, awesome! That’s great; so thank you Neil so much for inspiring us with these amazing images. You are a master at portraits and models and just photographing people with the lighting in the background and all that so, thank you very much!
Neil: Before we go, you asked for something that nobody really knows but me; my real name? Cornelius.
Neil: So, tell the whole world.
Brent: Ok, I will!
Neil: let’s make a public announcement of my real name is. It’s not Neil.
Brent: Ok, Cornelius Finke, I like it!
Neil: Yeah, so, it sounds a bit familiar. Just like home.
Brent: It does! Totally! I’m probably one of the only interviewers who can pronounce your name correctly.
Neil: I’ve Americanized it a little bit.
Brent: Yeah, okay. Yeah! VN, I like the website, the VN at the back.
One Camera Flash to Light the Whole Room
Brent: Alright Neil, so you’re gonna teach us something next in the create section and I believe it has something to do with the wedding that you photographed. Can you explain that to us?
Neil: Well, it’s a wedding image. It’s a groom being lifted up by his friends and it’s a massive venue, a huge hotel reception room. Now, when I first started doing wedding photography 12 plus years ago, Nikon D100 was my first camera, the 800 ISO was the highest could really take you know a pinch but right now, you’ve got clean 3200 ISO on your modern cameras. Like your Canon 5d Mark 3, 6D and D750 is beautiful, D4 Etc. And I think people are still locked in to the idea of they have to use low ISO for best quality. Whereas I change and bumped to the ISO higher and higher and higher to give myself a more natural look where the end of light still give me some kind of context; so in this massive venue where 12 years ago I would have had to put up additional lighting in the corners to light up the place. This was lit by only one speed light on my camera.
Neil: I’m dumping full power behind me into the area of my shoulder and what is behind me is what you see there in the front, is that massive venue. Some are dancing of a specific wall or surface, some I’m dancing to an area exactly like that behind me over my shoulder full power. But I’m shooting at 3.5, F3.5 at 2,500 ISO.
Neil: So you start pushing that kind of a high ISO, enough light will return even in a place like this. So, what I have here is with minimal effort. With one speed light in my camera I walk around the crowd with camera lens, I can light up the entire venue. And I’ve added a comparison shot here with pretty much the same settings or is it the same settings? Let me just quickly check. Yeah, exactly the same settings. Just so you can see the amount of work that a single flash would have done.
Brent: Wow! That’s crazy!
Neil: I think people are so too afraid to really, I mean, you paid mega bucks for a camera and one of the features is very good ISO image quality and used it and for me a couple of things here. It looks natural and something else happened with bounce flash into the area behind me the inverse- square law means the background becomes lighter. There’s a long explanation about that but the way that it is logarithmic curve is flattening further away off of the light source which means the entire place becomes much brighter in the background with one camera speed light.
Neil: So I don’t bounce forward, I don’t have a diffuser cup because the moment I bring my light source closer to my subject, I start getting a hard shadow and the background gets darker because the light source is closer to your subject that is the background. Now what’s behind me over my shoulder way up there where one of my lighter comes from floods up the place with light and you’ll get an image that looks like that. And I don’t have to set up additional lights, I don’t have to worry about people kicking light stands over, I don’t have to worry about triggering the other lights in different groups. And then the main thing to me is there would have been hot spots in the corners or if there are lights behind me there’s a weird cross shadow. So, the hotspots and the cross shadows are now eliminated with just one flash from my camera and with this I have a success rate of 95 plus percent. All the images work because of not just simplicity and the execution. And that’s it. Don’t be afraid. Be bold.
Brent: Love that, Neil! Thank you so much for sharing that with us especially the comparison image because you know, when I was looking at the first image, I thought “ok, maybe you can get away without a flash or the speed light in your camera” but then comparing it to the image that’s so dark and you know, obviously just got the ambient light and everyone is really dark compared to the background. It’s just a great tip! Thank you so much for sharing that with us, Neil and thanks so much for being on the SIC Show. We’ll obviously be sharing a lot of your resources in the show notes from the show. So, thank you very much!
Neil: You’re welcome, man! Take care!
Brent: Ok, Cheers! Oh man.
Brent: Neil Finicky a.k.a Cornelius.
Johny: Neil Vn for me because I can’t pronounce his last name. He’s awesome, man! It’s interesting fellow and funny too, that story...
Brent: Oh it’s crazy... And you know he’s an amazing guy coz he’s got a blog site called “Tangents” which has got over a thousand articles that he’s written.
Johny: That’s amazing guys! Check out the links, man! Gotta go and check that out.
Brent: Yeah! And actually, even in our community, the SIC Lounge, we basically quoted some of his reviews and how things work from his Tangents blog which is... That’s crazy!
Johny: That is, man!
Brent: So, Neil is a super smart guy. He doesn’t tell us how smart he is but I know how smart he is and how great a photographer he is too.
Johny: Well, you can see with all his images, man! They’re absolutely gorgeous and that little wipe out treat that’s pretty cool, man!
Brent: I like it! That trick yeah, just putting the gel on the flashes. It’s crazy! Those models in New York City so polished! That’s what I loved about it because it’s so good. I wanna be out there!
Johny: Polished yeah! It’s a classy example of someone who just mastered their craft. Awesome, bro! It’s been another epic show. Another awesome interview, great photographer! Check out the links below and check out this guy’s work, man because he’s got some great stuff.
Brent: Yeah! He’s also got three books that he published that are on Amazon.
Johny: Oh really?
Brent: It’s published by a publisher and you can buy them on Amazon and I know he’s put in a lot of effort into these books and he is about to do a second edition of one; the first one.
Johny: Really? Wow! So look out for that. Exciting, man! Exciting! Cool, guys! It’s been another epic show. Don’t forget to check out our free courses. Click on the link below, we are super pumped about it aren’t we, buddy?
Johny: Hundreds of people have taken them already and it’s been helping them on their photography
Brent: Awesome! So, take Johny’s post processing one, my landscape and my portrait one.
Johny: Yup! Yeah, man! Jump on it and get it done and have a great week!
Brent: Awesome, guys! Catch you next week!
Brent and Johny: Bye!