Off Camera Flash / Panoramic with Ben Young III

This image was photographed in the beautiful El Nido Resorts, Palawan Philippines by International Award Winning Destination Wedding Photographer Ben Young III from BY3 Studio.  Ben is based out of Davao City, Philippines but travels all around Asia and the world to photograph destination weddings.  He is one of the best photographers you have never heard of and one of the nicest guys you will ever meet :)  His passion for photography is inspiring and he continues to study his craft and is always willing to help other photographers.  I’ve been telling him he needs to do his workshops here… it’s always some day with him LOL.  I asked him what his philosophy behind his style and his response was:  My philosophy when I shoot a wedding… I always put myself in their shoes – i.e. If I’m shooting the groom, I put myself as him – how I would want to be photographed? – very modern, cool, “GQ” type of images. When I’m shooting the bride – how I would want to photograph my wife – something sexy, elegant and “vogue like covers”. Overall I always feel like its my wedding that I am shooting. I’m always amazed by the “wonders of the world” and I always incorporate those wonders in my images. I love shooting with off camera flash as the majority of my images have clouds/skies and underexposing other elements to create something different.

Ben kindly took the time to teach us one of his techniques, the off camera panoramic shot.  Thanks for sharing Ben!

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El Nido is a high end private/exclusive beach resort in Palawaan, Philippines.  I was honored to be chosen to photograph their wedding in such a beautiful island.  I wanted to capture the beauty and serenity of the location and at the same time showcase my bride.  The first shot I took was with off camera flash which was placed 70-80 degrees camera right and up high on a monopod MoGo Pod  so that the flash shadows would look natural where the light is comingfrom above and the shadows falling underneath the chin.  The Speedlite used was a Nikon SB-910 (BH) and was triggered by Radio Popper PX (Amazon).   The flash setting was on manual zoom was set at 50 mm and the flash power was set at 1/2.  The lens used was a Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 (BH) on a Nikon D800 camera (BH) body with the camera settings at f9 @ 160 iso 50 shot in jpg large fine.  The Camera was sitting on a Manfrotto 755CX3 Magfiber Tripod (BH)  and a Manfrotto Virtual Reality Pan Pro Head (BH).  The reason I choose to use this tripod was mainly portability, it is made of carbon fiber which makes it very lightweight and compact and easy to carry in remote locations such as this.   Also, since it is made of carbon fiber, it very rigid and durable which  makes the shot rock steady.  Another reason we use this tripod is because of its ball head mounting plate which allows you to rotate the head to get a level shot even if you are on uneven ground like the sand.  We use Manfrotto VR Pan Pro Head because it makes the panorama shots so simple.  You just set the degree of your panorama whether it be 360, 180 degrees etc and it will stop click on the amount of shots you need to take.  I then asked my assistant to toss the brides dress to simulate movement and add motion to the shot.


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I metered for the sky, which means that without the flash on… I metered for the background, especially the sky which is why my subject is silhouette on images 2 and 3

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Creating the Panoramic:  First, if you noticed image 1 with flash, the sand portion of the picture has an uneven bright spot and since I can’t illuminate the entire beach with flash I had to find a way to make it look like there is no flash here (or at least not so obivious :).  I used the exposure of the sand from images 2 & 3 to cover that up.  To bring these 3 images together, I used Photoshop CS6’s photo merge feature ( file>automate >photo merge ) then selected the images that I want to be stitched and I let photoshop determine the sequence – believe it or not its pretty good, I didn’t have to do much more in terms of stitching as you can see below.  I then noticed that I had to clean up a little bit by masking the layers and painting over the bright sand portions of the photo.

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Below is the image after masking…

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I didn’t do much on the entire image: I cleaned and cloned out unwanted highlights on the sand; I added contrast and clarity to the image then I decided to make it black and white.

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There are so many ways to create a panoramic image, I’m just used to this kind of process… if you know a better way to create a panoramic image, please share your techniques – as my son always say – “Sharing is Loving” :)

Peace – Ben

The following is a small collection images International Award Winning Destination Wedding Photographer Ben Young III from BY3 Studio:

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Leave a comment or question below!  Also, connect with Ben on the interwebs at:

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Mindy says:

love the exact specifics on the flash and camera settings ;)