Friday, May 25, 2007

Perfect Light

Get creative with your lighting technique with some inspiration from these case studies by a master of illumination

Blue Eyes

A ringflash is a wonderful tool. For this image, I used the new Broncolor Ringflash C, which has 10 modeling lights of 20 watts each. That's enough power to see exactly what I'm doing without having any more lights in the setup. And the total 200 watts is plenty to give every autofocus camera enough illumination to focus precisely. Also, under the modeling lights, the model's pupils become smaller, reducing or avoiding any red-eye effect.

Generally, when a ringflash is used as a single light, the results show an even illumination on the object or model with slightly darker contours and shadow contours all around. With the Ringflash C, I had the option to use three different honeycomb grids, which gave me complete control over the illumination and light distribution. In this shot, I combined the Ringflash C with two softboxes, left and right behind the model, to create the dominant highlights, and a standard light reflector with honeycomb grids to illuminate the background unevenly.

The most difficult part was to adjust the power of the ringflash. If it's too strong, the entire mood of the shot gets lost. If it's a little too low, the face becomes dark and kind of muddy-looking.

I used a short lens to get some perspective in the shot and to see a slight gradation from the arms to the face. (If a ringflash is used from a farther distance, the entire body gets the same amount of light. Only at shorter distances, due to the inverse square law, will I get the desired fast falloff of the light.)

I used a medium-format camera with a 22-megapixel digital back at ISO 25, ƒ/8 and 1⁄125 sec. The lens focal length was 80mm.

Fashion Glow

The intention was to create a cool and mystical fashion setup that accentuates the clothing and styling. I wanted to shoot on a light table, with the main light diffused through it. I didn't have a big glass table strong enough on which to place the white acrylic and the model, so I had to find another solution.

I covered the floor with white paper and placed on it eight FOBA tubes of 40 cm each. Four of them took the main weight of the model and four supported the corners. Below the white acrylic, I set up three open flash tubes (bare bulbs) on the white paper. This reflected the light from the bare bulbs and allowed an almost even illumination of the big acrylic.

In the first preview, I adjusted the power of the three lights. Skin touching the table was slightly blown out while the clothing didn't lose any details. The Broncolor P65 reflector directed on the white background was used completely defocused. This assured a very even illumination.

For the next step, I placed two Pulsoflex EM 30x110 softboxes left and right behind the model. At rather low power, they gave decent accent lights.
Finally, I had to give a little fill to the face, otherwise the light from below would have been too dominant. To reach the face only, I used a Satellite Staro with honeycomb grids.

I used a medium-format camera with a 22-megapixel digital back at ISO 50, ƒ/11 and 1⁄125 sec. The lens focal length was 120mm.


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