Another cool way to pimp out your camera gear!
in under 3 hours
The clock was ticking. It was December 24th, there was going to be a strong possibility that we would open our gifts that evening. Tradition has it that I buy the Mrs. a gift on Christmas Eve.
We had been talking since last hockey season about a dramatically lit portrait similar to what the NHL and Verses used for a promo commercial last season.
Chris, our hockey player, has always been my stand in model when testing lighting and he really doesn't like getting in front of the camera these days unless he's playing.
After talking things over with a co-worker, it hit me, that now was the time for this portrait. Chris had his gear and jersey with him while he was home for the holidays.
Digital Photography has definitely allowed for fast turn around, but with roughly 5 hours to go from concept to wrapped gift I was going to be pushing things.
Logistics were stacked against me. I didn't have a frame. I didn't have a way to get Sherry out of the house long enough to shoot the photo. Flashes going off would be a sure sign of mischief.
To compound matters, Sherry was getting off work at 3pm and I would have to pick her up, and carpool home. That 3pm turned into 3:30 which cramped the tight production schedule even further. But I was committed at that point.
Prior to picking Sherry up, I took advantage of the time that I could control and made a stop at AC Moore and went frame shopping. I was rather disappointed in their selection. I wanted something modern, probably silver that would look good on Sherry's desk. I found a nice "gunmetal" brushed frame.
We got out of Sherry's office and back home by 4pm. I had talked with Chris and he had gathered his stuff together so we wouldn't be caught moving his gear around. The wrapping paper was still downstairs and we would have to relocated that. "Chris, since we are done with the presents, can you take the wrapping stuff upstairs?"
Sherry got busy in the kitchen. Chris and I went up to the bonus room which is not a good place to shoot photos. I setup lights, Chris geared up. 4 test shots later, I had the lighting I wanted. We shot for maybe 5 minutes.
I popped the card into the card reader, made a fast edit pass, picked the shot. Since I didn't have a clean background to shoot against, the background had some window shades showing up that needed to be touched out.
Cropped and toned and spewed in the inkjet. I tried to mount the photo in the frame, but it was still wet enough that it was sticking to the glass in the frame. I was out of time and needed to make an appearance downstairs or suspicions would grow too high.
We had dinner and were getting ready to open the gifts after the meal, but the present wasn't wrapped. I cleared my place and while everyone else was finishing up, I sneaked upstairs framed and wrapped the now dry print.
On the way back to try and get the present under the tree, I found I was too late. Everyone had gathered in the family room. The kitchen table still sat with everyone's plates and serving dishes. The lure of the wrapped gifts could not be held back any longer and I was caught red-handed with the gift.
"Whats that?" Sherry asked. So it was the first gift handed out. "It feels like a picture frame" she said. We handed out the rest of the gifts and Sherry went first and went straight for the photo frame.
Now to refresh, this s a shot she had been wanting for a long time and of course I hadn't shot it yet, so she was quite surprised to find this photo framed and ready for her desk at work.
Needless to say, I love digital.
This is also another example of using one light to illuminate a photo. This is very similar lighting to what I used for my Raleigh Flickr Group Summer Project entry (see the blog post 1 Light, 4 Moods, Part 1 below).
I used a single SB800 speedlight on a light stand camera left 90 degrees to Chris. I used my homemade snoot, a rice box cut to size and held together with masking tape. I've since pimped it out with some black gaffers tape to line the inside. The snoot restricts where the light goes, creating a tight beam. The bonus room is an aweful place to try and shoot this because we have so much stuff in there and light spill would be a photoshop nightmare to clean up.
I really needed an assistant for this because I would have liked to have had a reflector 90 degrees camera right to bounce some fill back to soften up the shadows a bit and get some more light on the "E" at the right end of the name plate on the sweater.
Starting at Defense, #11, Chris Miracle, originally uploaded by Miracle Man. in under 3 hours The clock was ticking. It was December 24th, there was going to be a strong possibility that we would open our gifts that evening. Tradition has it that I buy the Mrs. a gift on Christmas Eve. We had been […]
The final installment in this series covers Rim Lighting. This lighting technique uses a light behind the subject so that the subject is "rimmed" by the light. You see this lighting used in the movies a lot where the director has the sun shining behind the actors to really explode the hair in the "sunset shots". Photographers will use this to help separate the subject from the background.
Think of Rim lighting as using a single light that acts as a kicker and a hair light.. You typically set the light up behind the subject shooting straight at the camera. Set the light to be at least one stop more powerful than the key light, if not it won't show up.
For this shot, I probably should have elevated the light a little higher and zoomed out a bit as I didn't get a good "rim" on the top of her right shoulder or along her left arm. But there are nice highlights on her hair, profile of her face and along her right arm.
So you can see with using only one source light, its possible to create several dynamic images that have different moods too them. Using Distance, power, angle, and various modifiers, with one light you can create endless possibilities with your lighting.
The important thing is to experiment. Build time in your sessions to try experimental lighting. Get your main shots down then experiment, experiment and experiment to find what you like.
There are multiple groups and forums based on light weight lighting, Strobist
is a great web site for learning about lighting.
Bliss Rimlight, originally uploaded by Miracle Man. The final installment in this series covers Rim Lighting. This lighting technique uses a light behind the subject so that the subject is “rimmed” by the light. You see this lighting used in the movies a lot where the director has the sun shining behind the actors to […]
For this photo, I had the flash shooting through a 33" white translucent umbrella. I had the Nikon SB800 strobe light on manual 1/8th power and about 3 feet away from the model. When you only have one light, it pretty much is the main or "key" light. Most of the time, when your doing a portrait session, you want to go for a standard "broad" lighting setup.
Broad lighting is when the subject is pretty much looking at the light source. This illuminates a majority of the subjects face. Usually you pose a portrait with the head turned slightly to where you see about 3/4 of the face. When the light lights the 3/4's part of the face, thats "Broad" lighting.
Another lighting style is called "short" lighting and this is where the subject looks away from the light and in the typical 3/4 pose, the 1/4th side of the face is illuminated with the key light.
Another way of thinking about this is broad lighting lights the eye closest to the camera, short lighting lights the eye furthest from the camera.
Usually you start portraits with the lights at 45 degrees to either side of the camera and 30-45 degrees above the subject. This is great portrait lights, but its not very creative. Its great to start there and get a few safe shots done, but you should consider moving the lights and break the rules. However a few concepts should be kept in mind.
Its all about the eyes. If your subject's eyes are going to be open, having a strong set of "catch lights" or the reflections of your key light in the subject's eyes is critical to pulling the viewer in. Also eyes lost in the shadows of the eye sockets are generally unattractive (unless your shooting horror shots!) so getting light into the eyes is something you should always be conscience of .
But for this photo session, we were going for a "Film Noir" look. Film Noir, is a lighting style seen in the 1940's and besides being black and white, its characterized by strong side lighting. I didn't want the spotlight effect as used in the two previous articles. I wanted a softer light for this shot, but with enough directionality to give some hard edges.
I set the light's height almost level with the model and directly right of her. A shoot through umbrella acts like a round softbox giving a soft feathered light that helps wrap around avoiding hard shadows. However, since an umbrella is curved it also has the effect of "spilling" light in nearly a 180 degree radius. So this setup, put enough light on the background to give me a reasonably smooth background gradient as well.
Of course with the light this far to the side of the camera, there is risk of lens flare as the light on the near side of the umbrella is firing at the camera. Depending on power, you might have to "flag off" or block the light coming towards the camera. Between the Nikon D200 only using part of the lens' coverage circle and having the lens hood on, I avoided any flare in the photo.
I set the exposure on the camera to avoid any blowouts in the white. Final tonal adjustments were made in Photoshop to equalize the range between black and white. But with the hot side lights and enough feathering her body, we get this mysterious yet soft photo.
The one regret. No one smokes (and our house is smoke free where this is shot), so no cigarette in the holder. Had there been one with a small puff of smoke, I think I would have used this photo for the Raleigh Flickr Group's Summer Project.
instead of the one in the first post.
Next up, Rim Lighting.
Bliss Softlight, originally uploaded by Miracle Man. For this photo, I had the flash shooting through a 33″ white translucent umbrella. I had the Nikon SB800 strobe light on manual 1/8th power and about 3 feet away from the model. When you only have one light, it pretty much is the main or “key” light. […]
<a href="http://www.flickr .com/photos/miracle_man/2837983348/”>Bliss Spotlight, originally uploaded by Miracle Man. In the previous post, I discussed the importance of getting the light off camera. I also discussed light modifiers. In the photo in the first post, I used a single SB800 through a home-made snoot. A snoot’s job is to keep light from spilling outside of […]
Each summer, the Raleigh Flickr Group
has a summer project. This summer, the project was to submit one matted photo that would be judged in an un-themed gallery exhibition. The idea that I had planned wasn't going to happen during the allowed window to shoot in.
I was in kind of a film noir mood and found a model who was wanting to shoot so we spent the afternoon shooting. Now the nice thing about film noir is you can get away with one light for the most part and being that I only have one light, it was a good theme to choose.
About the same time, the Triangle Strobist Group
(also on flickr) was posing a challenge idea for getting 4 moods using just one light. So I was going to be able to address two items at once!
You can do a lot with just one light.
The first thing you have to do is get your one light off camera. On camera lighting is pretty unflattering and limited in what you can do, though a popular technique for on camera lighting is using a "Ring Flash".
There are several ways to get your flash off the camera. The easiest, if your a Nikon or Canon dSLR shooter (and I think Sony can also do this) is to use their built in wireless system. This system works by using the camera's popup flash to "command" an off camera strobe.
In my case, I could use the popup flash on my Nikon D200 to control my SB800 speed light without wires.
If you can't use this method (no popup, camera doesn't support wireless modes, etc.) you have other options. You can invest in inexpensive optical triggers that use the on camera flash to fire an off camera flash. Or you can invest is radio triggers. These run from the expensive Pocket Wizards to the uber-cheap Cactus triggers (found on eBay). Since my popup on my D200 is busted, I picked up the Cactus triggers which work well for me.
Once you get your light off camera, then you need to be able to modify it. The simplest modifier is to make the light bigger creating softer shadows. This can be done with an umbrella or a softbox. A popular technique used by many of us is to use a white transluscent "shoot thru" umbrella. This acts like a circular softbox. A light weight light stand, with a swivel (used to hold your flash and the umbrella to the stand) and a shoot through umbrella can be gotten fairly cheaply.
This setup gives you flexibility on where you place the light. You control the height, distance and angle of the light. Shot closely to the model you have a large area light with soft shadows. You can pull the light back and have it start producing harder shadows and only lighting part of the scene.
To be continued.....
Bliss, originally uploaded by Miracle Man. Each summer, the Raleigh Flickr Group has a summer project. This summer, the project was to submit one matted photo that would be judged in an un-themed gallery exhibition. The idea that I had planned wasn’t going to happen during the allowed window to shoot in. I was in […]
Okay, I've been a bum when it comes to posting to this blog but I've had an interesting last 6 months.
Early in July, I was approached at work to take on a pretty important and project: manage a web redesign for the a very visible division of the parent company I work for. I also had the pleasure of doing the heavy lifting on the code. After 3 months of 13 hour days, I'm just now returning to something that represents normality.
I managed to get a few model shoots in, but for this particular shoot with Brittani, the model, and I had been wanting to shoot, but I had no idea what to do. When you work 13 hours a day it drains your creativity... your energy.... and your desire.
I tossed about an idea for doing a shoot that was kind of urban waif, homeless girl look. She liked the idea. The next problem I had to overcome now that I had a theme was where to shoot it.
While working with the stylist on the ideas, she told me she had the perfect place and with styling and a location in place we had a shoot.
Prior to the shoot, we met at the stylists house. Brittany was already there and working on wardrobe ideas. Once I arrived we settled on a pair of old jeans and a sweater that could be sacrificed.
The jeans were ripped in select places, frayed in others, and some pure bleach poured in and allowed to soak a bit gave us some uneven colors.
The sweater top had the neckline cut out, the sleeve edges cut and frayed and various strings of yarn were pulled out to rag up the sweater as much as possible.
Once hair and makeup was done, we drove about a mile to the location, an abandoned mobile home on a small farm. We started out on the front porch and moved to various locations. The above photo was one of the early shots on the porch. The tones in the door and wall are similar to those in the jeans and sweater making for a pleasing color palette.
The photo was finished in Photoshop using some free actions available on the Internet.
The lighting on the photo is natural light with a reflector camera left providing some fill.
Now that my big project is over, my mind is now in overdrive on ideas. I just have to find time to shoot.
The Struggle, originally uploaded by Miracle Man. Okay, I’ve been a bum when it comes to posting to this blog but I’ve had an interesting last 6 months. Early in July, I was approached at work to take on a pretty important and project: manage a web redesign for the a very visible division of […]