I had a few minutes today, while my wife was fixing some dinner, to take a fun picture of my son Pablo. It was getting pretty dark and I had to work quickly. I asked him to step on top of a power utility box next to the garage at home and jump. I was on the ground looking up with a wide angle lens. The light on him was provided by a strobe with a 7in. reflector and no diffusion. The strobe was on a short stand pretty close to the ground. I captured a few frames, and I liked two - in one Pablo was getting ready to jump, and in the other one he was already in the air. I decided to combine the two frames into a single one to create a better story - Pablo pushing himself off the cliff. It was pretty easy and fun to do! And he really likes the photo too!
Archive for October 2009
Yesterday I posted a couple of low key images using dramatic light with some references to the old Hollywood glamour style.
Here is the same model, Anna, but this time with a high key treatment, and a more contemporary fashion look, using white on white to emphasize simplicity and purity, with some symbolic reference to Nordic coldness.
Light was simple, a single Large Photoflex Q39 softbox behind a 4×6 Photoflex Light frame with a diffusion panel on it for additional diffusion. The fill was a 4×8 white foam core book. The background was lit separately. Ratio between background and the subject was 2:1 - images are straight out of the camera with exception of resizing and slight sharpening for the web.
The more I work with light the more I enjoy working with shadows. Today I worked with Anna, a stunning European model on stock imagery, mostly on a white background with super diffused light. Pretty conventional, commercial looking stuff. She did great, as I expected. At the end of the session and just for fun, I turned off the lights on the white seamless, put away the large softbox, put a 40 degree grid on a beauty dish, and put it a couple of feet from her, after she changed into black clothes. I directed her just a bit, and she gave me this image, the last one from a series of about four hundred. And the one I like the most because of the well defined shadows and the overall low key.
Gotta love the shadows if you’re in love with light!
For this image I converted to a platinum tone and added a bit more postprocessing to try idealize and glamourize the woman as it was done back in the 30s and 40s. I like the black garment becoming just a shape, a pedestal for the lovely face.
On Saturday October 17th I worked with Yeamin, a lovely Indian model, on some lifestyle and business style portraits for my Getty stock collection. It was mid-day, about 3pm and we picked shady areas to get diffused light. It’s common for the camera not to get the color of light exactly right, hence I always shoot in raw mode and then adjust the white balance in postprocessing. In the first image below I was working in open shade - even though the day was sunny and with few clouds, but using a shaded area I was able to get to light across Yeasmin’s face, including a rim effect on the right side of her cheek, which I love.
In this second image, with more of a business portrait feel, I used window light, coming from camera right, and took advantage of the ledge to pose her in a natural way:
On Saturday I taught a seminar on lighting at my home studio. At the end of the day I did this exercise to show how a photographer can totally change the mood of an image using lighting, and also how the same background can be lit differently to support the mood we want.
Picture #1 - white background illuminated with two bounce umbrellas, one on each side. The model is being lit by a very large softbox to camera left, with the fill being a large white reflector to camera light. The ratio between key and fill was 2/3 of a f-stop. Note how the white background, the open, diffuse lighting and the dress all convey an upbeat mood.
Picture #2 – same WHITE background, but with no light on it. I propped a 4×8 black foam core board on top of two folding doors to prevent the light from bouncing from the white ceiling and giving me a medium gray tone above her head – I wanted a dark, low key image with a certain monumentality created by the position of the camera and the wide ange of the lens. Almost mystical. The key light was a beauty dish with a 40 degree grid on it very close to her face. The fill was a strobe with a 7 in reflector right next to the camera, in front of her – to open the shadows on the black garment. There was also another strobe behind her, low, pointing up to her back, to create a little separation between her and the background.
The exercise shows how to turn a white background into black - simply remove light from falling on it. In order for the beauty dish to not throw light onto the background, I had to position it very close to the model so that I would expose correctly for the light falling on her face, while at the same time, the light falloff was very rapid and hence light didn’t reach the white.