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. [...]
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 a certain area. This focuses the light in a tight pattern. There are several modifiers useful for restricting light. The simplest is a "flag", usually a dark cloth or board used to block light from an area. A standard reflector, a piece of foam core will do the trick. Another light restricting modifier is "Barn Doors"
. Its look a snoot, except that it can be opened on any of 4 sides to let light out.
An extension of a snoot and barndoor is the grid
. With Barn doors there is still a lot of light rays that bounce around and create larger areas of light. Snoots focus the light down, but again, the light can come out at different angles. A grid helps focus the light rays down to very parallel beams giving a very tight spot light.
So using some masking tape and a rice box, I built a snoot for my SB800. Its a shorter snoot, about 3 inches, which gives me some focus. Its possible to build longer ones, say in the 8 inch range which will give you a very narrow beam. My 3 inch version produces a good bust size beam when the light is about 3-4 feet away from the subject.
For this photo of Bliss, I wanted some spill on the background. Since I don't have barn doors, I removed the snoot and just changed the direction the SB800 was pointing. It was set for a 105mm zoom and was positioned about 3 feet directly right of the model (camera left) creating the hard shadows characteristic of Film Noir. The spill on the background is also characteristic of this period of photography. The first photo in the previous post isn't traditional film Noir, but just using a single light as a kicker.
Both shots are shot with a middle gray background. For the first shot, the model was pulled off the background a little more to allow it to go very black as very little light was falling on it. For the second shot, I moved her closer so both her and the background would be caught in the single burst of light.
Coming next, the shoot through umbrella shot.