As we all have heard by now: Photography is painting with light. Right. Hoo-Ray. Big Yaaaawwwn in the audience. You could say that for Adobography as well, only that with Adobe you paint light with pixels instead of the sun or strobes. And it comes with an undo function. So why bother to paint with light? Because it’s instant fun. Compared with moving pixels in solitude in front of your computer screen in could be as much fun as shooting Polaroid back in the days.
I had briefly met Annika before she came to the studio for her first shoot. A wonderful person, gifted with a friendly and bubbly personality. This being her very first shoot, we started with something safe and less sophisticated – a beauty dish (a.k.a. The Wok) in combination with a big low lightbox below. Turning the light all nice and soft. And it takes away any challenges for the sitter as it creates in essence a massive wall of directional light, eleminating any unflattering shadows, regardless of Annika's movements.
Shot with a
85mm lens, which also provides some valuable distance to your model. Neither a 35mm nor
a 200mm focal length is a good starting point for a shooting – unless you are trying to show off your undoubtly impressive collection of lenses.
moved closer to the background. Single standard reflector, some 5 meters (15
ft) away. More restriction for her movements, but more contrast and spark,
especially on her leather jacket. Her outfit did dictate the light - or, less imperative - it did give some kind of direction on the choice of light modifiers and the subsequent quality of light.
After some hair change, we headed for a different, more artificial look to compliment Annika's new appearance. Enter the ring flash, balanced on an almost 1:1 ratio, allowing shadows behind her (casted by the distant light), but eliminating the shadows on her face (by the ring flash).
To be perfectly honest, I am not a big fan of ring flash, and even less of ring light. The latter I usually describe as a confession of bancrupcy in terms of lighting capabilities. And as a general rule, I never use ring flash as the sole light source – yet this rule was soon to be broken as we skipped the distant light to have the sole ring flash for the next look.
Finally Annika – being an aspiring photographer herself – wanted to have a quick shot featuring her and her camera. We turned the distant hard light back on and the ring flash off. To have her camera strobe firing, we put a Nikon SB-900 in servo mode – manual and on minimum power – to have it fire back in my camera.
We had a great day in the studio. We did very little with posing and even with styling (this time there was no MUA at hand), so I left it all to the light to address, compliment and eventually amplify the various moods Annika presented. Even if it meant that at least one of my rules – the "no-sole-ring-flash" rule – went overboard in the process.
the thing: to have fun in the studio with your model. Don’t
rely on one setup you may be familiar and at ease with. Play and sometimes even fool around a
little to see what happens. Just like back in the good old days, when you and
your friends went crazy with your parents instamatic camera. Way better and way more instant feedback than hoping to get some inspiration later on when in front of your computer, while throwing a bunch of layers to the file and desperately hoping that something will stick.
Equipment used in this post: Nikon Nikkor 85 mm, Elinchrom Ringflash ECO RQ.
Thank you for your attention. Share or like if you like, or comment if you don’t.