Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Subtle Lighting Practice


One problem in my work is that I sometimes overlight the scene, completely obliterating the existing light. This is fine in some situations, but I also want to be able to recreate more natural lighting, and avoid the "CG" look (computer generated). To try this, I used my excellent model, Agust, and setup around him while he was working on the computer. This way I could try many different setups without having to worry about the model becoming bored or wanting to leave.

First, I wanted to capture the existing lighting as best as possible. This was hard to do with the low light in the room. It required ISO 1600, 1/60 shutter speed, and f/1.8 Those settings are toeing the line of what my camera can do. Any slower shutter and I'd get blur, the lens can't open up wider, and the ISO doesn't go higher.


There is a very bright lamp to the left and behind the subject, creating the strong rim light. The laptop is throwing a bit of blue on his face, and the lamp is bouncing around the room off the white walls for the fill. It's an ok portrait, but I wanted a bit more control over the colors of the light, so that the main portion of the face could be more neutral, and I wanted to bring the camera settings up. I wanted a lower ISO for less noise, faster shutter to kill ambient and avoid any blur at all, and a slighly higher f-stop for a bit more of the face in focus.

Here's the setup shot. Click through to see notes on the flashes.


2 Vivitar 285hv and one Morris slave
main flash at 1/16 power,
at telephoto zoom,
bounced off the wall and ceiling,
light stand was at 1.5 meters height,
2 meters to right of subject and even with camera,
rim light was at 1/1024 power,
through 3/4 CTOrange gel
at telephoto zoom,
.3 meters to subject left, and slightly behind,
at 1 meters in height,
Morris slave at 1/2 power,
through 1/2 CTBlue gel,
sitting on laptop and aimed at screen to bounce.

The first shot of the post has the morris slave turned off, which results in a more contrasty shadow of the face. However I wanted to try also with a bit of "blue glow" to emulate the screen. I was operating way too high above screen brightness for it to show up, which meant I needed to break out my slave flash. It's quite dim, and only has full and half power, but it worked great for this purpose. I put it on the laptop palm rest and aimed at the screen to get it to bounce. An unforseen, but added benefit, is the nice bright marks on his glasses, which is the flash bouncing off the icons of the screen. This final shot shows the same setup, but with the morris flash turned on.


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