The challenge was to take a room full of photographers and show them the importance of solid basics when shooting in a studio…especially in a high production environment like underclass photography.
One large, fill from a 60″ Westcott umbrella
Looks fine, if you like totally flat lighting. Not to say there isn’t a time for that, but this certainly isn’t one of them
30″ Hensel Octabank added-main from camera left
Nicer, starting to get some pattern of light and shadow happening on Victoria’s face. But still, not near where I want to end up at
Adding a hair light makes a ton of difference!
I added a hair light, an additional 300 Ws Hensel with a 12″x36″ Interfit strip bank and Light Tools fabric grid over head. Look how nice her hair pops! I love this look, and we didn’t blow out her light colored clothing or her shoulders. That’s what fabric grids will do for you. I know they aren’t cheap, but I love the control they give me. They are also one of the most incredibly versatile light modifiers in my lighting bag of tricks. The question came up as to what I would do for a bald client. I have a super simple solution that I use all the time in my corporate head shot work. I take the strip bank from over head and move it off camera, and to the rear as a separation light. The grids totally eliminate any chance of lens flare and I get a well sculpted, beautifully lit portrait. Here is an example of what that looks like. My good friend Will Crockett (who taught me this solution) and I always get into the conversation of “nose whack”and if it is acceptable. (light hitting the subjects nose from that kicker side) I happen to believe it is totally fine, but if you don’t, just adjust the angle of your kicker and let it ride.
OK, change of subject just for a minute. Look high nicely the strip bank separates him from the background and adds dimension!
OK, so this above shot is now a three light set up, I eliminated the background light and made the original hair light my “kicker” light. It’s still doing what it’s supposed to, provide separation and a little drama to the portrait.
Back to the original set up, this time I’ll add a background light. It is a reflector with grid to lighten the background and give some separation from the background, and add some dimension. Our room size was very limited, so I wasn’t able to place it exactly where I wanted, I think but you’ll get the idea.
All four lights, simple, clean and totally repeatable!
Sure, if I had room or time I would have fine tuned the background light for a more dramatic effect. We had two hours to set up the situation, make a case for metering , custom white balance, and talk about all the gear and get some images. I guarantee that these files will fly through any color lab on the planet with no color correction and look perfect. Now, you may want them warmer or cooler (just season to taste) apply that correction globally and you are done!
More Techno Specs: Camera was my trusty Nikon D700 with the 70-200 2.8 VRII, on my Gitzo Carbon Fiber tripod with 468 MGRC2 head. I shot tethered into Lightroom on a MacBook Pro. Pocket Wizard TT1/TT5 as my trigger (totally manual of course) into the Hensel Integra mini’s. Manfrotto C Stand with D600 boom arm to hold the 12″x36″ Interfit strip bank and Light Tools fabric grids. If you want more information on any of these items, or to purchase just drop me an email here or to [email protected]