Monday, November 3, 2008

Andres Portraits


Settings: Ambient is 2 stops underexposed, Right light is into a silver umbrella at 1 stop above neutral grey, and left light is a bare flash zoomed to 105mm and aimed at his head, at 1.5 stops above neutral grey.

This was a shoot that I´d been planning for several weeks and I only finally had time this past weekend. I´d originally planned to reuse the fishtank setting, which is why I asked the model to wear all white, but the office was extremely busy so we improvised. This is a nice park near the model´s house, and it offered some really interesting settings. It was cold and we needed to work fast. Luckily I had an assistant to hold my lightstand so I could use an umbrella. The lighting setup was very simple, the main flash was into a silver umbrella for a nice even and soft light, and the rim light was a bare flash zoomed to 105mm so that only his head and shoulders would get rim lighting and I wouldn´t get a 2nd ugly shadow on the ground. As we moved from setting to setting, we only had these two, very light, light stands to move around, and it enabled me to quickly get all the shots I wanted. As the ambient level dropped, I was able to just open the shutter more to compensate.


Because his skin is a bit darker, I needed to make a bit brighter exposure, but this risked blowing out the bright white clothing. Luckily my 40D has quite a bit of raw headroom to bring the highlights down, so it worked quite well. I just used a little bit of the recovery slider in lightroom to bring the clothing down, while leaving his face well exposed. The white clothes help to contrast with his darker skin tones, to bring more attention to the focal point (his face).


For this one, because I couldn't physically put the rim light behind him (we were on the edge of the dam, so only open water was behind this railing) I put the second light against the railing, and it provided a bit of fill, giving an almost glowing affect to his face that I like very much. It manages to not quite overlap the main light, so you still get some nice shadows to give his face volume. If either light had been brought around closer to the camera axis, they would have overlapped and been flattening to his facial structure.

Once I had a good lighting ratio, it was all about getting a good pose, and composition. It was so nice to have that freedom of knowing I would get good light, and be able to focus more on the portrait experience. I could switch lenses quickly for different framing aspects, and I mostly used my 28mm, my 35mm and my 85mm lenses.


For this headshot, I would have changed the height of the rim light so that his collar didn't create such a harsh line on his chin. The light was in a ditch and it was already at it's full height. I should have moved the model to the ditch and placed the light a full meter higher to ensure the collar didn't cast a hard line across his chin.

There is something to be said for using classic lighting setups. You can be sure to achieve a nice result lighting wise, and can concentrate more on the subject and the composition.

View the rest of the set.

1 comment:

  1. Great information about flash settings which are very helpful as I am trying to improve flash photography outside.