Peanut's Realm

Peanut's Realm

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Personal Project: One Light, Dramatic Light (Part 1)

May 17, 2011 , ,

I’ve spent the last few weeks getting back to basic lighting, or as I like to call it, a basic blocking and tackling drill.  Everyone should try a few of these, whether you do it at work or in your personal life.  It’s good to practice the fundamentals and make them automatic.  That’s what professionals do.  Fundamentals really ground you and give you an appreciation for simplifying things in your life.   From what I’ve gathered, in this day and age, we can all use a de-noise filter with the amount of stimuli we’re fed on a day-to-day basis.

Photography has a lot of pitfalls in it, and one is the overabundance of gear that is paraded in front of you as the next best thing, or a must have item to get a specific look.  Even Landscape photographers have magazines dedicated to all the gear you need to get that magical vista shot.  This is not a new challenge, and it is talked about regularly by photography instructors all over the world.  I’m not calling out a new problem here, but I’m working on a project to get back to my own private Ansel Adam’s place (OK… maybe not Ansel since he wasn’t a big strobe guy, but you get the point, one photographer, one light, and one subject).  He didn’t have a lot of bells and whistles to play with, but his work transcended eras, and still stands out today.

I’ve probably said my blog-worthy fill.  I’m going to digress into technical ramblings now as I journal about what I worked through during this particular shoot.  This will probably only resonate with other photographers (a few of which will probably call BS, which translates to a “learning opportunity” as I like to call it).

For this project, I was using a Nikon D90 and the kit lens off my D60 (Nikkor 18-55 f/3.5-5.6).  Yep… b.a.s.i.c.

So to start with I’m just playing with gridded light arrangements.  These shots are with Paul C. Buff Einstein strobes into two different modifiers, a 7″ reflector and a 24″ beauty dish (no diffusion).  Lighting 101.

As most people do I bribed a subject to come pose for me in a basic lighting setup.  The concrete background in my studio has multiple sections so I thought about putting the model in one section and something else in the other as counterweight.  Wandering around the studio I found a table and an old giraffe nick-knack… sold.

The lighting arrangement on this is a single strobe about 7′ off the ground angled down with a 40 deg. grid loaded into a 7″ reflector.  I worked the power up and down to find the exposure I liked.  It metered at 1/125th ISO200 f/8, which was where I ended up.  Dark, dramatic lighting can be hard to gauge on the histogram so it was kind of a crap shoot.  I can tell this is something to continue to work on improving.  We shot for awhile in this configuration before I decided to widen my lighting splash and brought the beauty dish out.  This modifier is becoming my favorite light (this month anyway).  I find more and more ways to use the circular lighting pattern with sharp fall off while also loving the catch light it puts in your subject’s eyes.  Positioned like it was it acted as a small softbox, though a little harder light source.

I ended up having her point at the line which setup nicely in my eyes and added an element of “interestingness” to the photo.  There are a few nice geometric shapes in the composition that I really like (triangles and rectangles).  Also, utilizing the background and splitting the subjects between both appealed to me.  The light and coloration gives this an almost ethereal look and feel.  I ended up settling on this image as my favorite.  I know… it’s a taste thing.

The session was fairly short as bribery will only get you so far.  Here are a few other non-published pictures from the shoot.

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