A local photographer that had rented my studio sent me a message last night complementing me on my studio lighting skills and asking whether she could tag along on a studio shoot. I have had other photographers express the same interest. So, perhaps a post or two on lighting setups I like would be of interest.
One of my favourite lighting setups for a glamourous head shot uses three lights and could probably be called “clamshell with backlight”.
April and Stephanie both shot with a P45+ digital back on a Mamiya 645 AFD II.
The clamshell: the clamshell is the main light(s) that will provide soft uniform lighting and it looks like a clamshell. A large softbox (or beauty dish, or whatever) is placed directly in front of the subject and above the head (about six feet high) and is aimed down toward the subject and is the key light. A smaller softbox is placed below the key light at about knee to waist hight and is aimed up so that, combined, the two softboxes are like a clamshell opening to eat up the subject. Of course, the uvula of the clamshell is my camera. Note that the second softbox is powered about a stop or two below the main or key light and serves to fill in the shadows somewhat. This lighting is also great for more mature models as the clamshell will fill in shadows from lines and wrinkles, softening their impact. This is the clamshell part.
The backlight: is a standard reflector situated directly behind (perhaps four feet) the subject and at about shoulder hight. This will add a glow to blonde hair, and is set about a stop or two above the key light.
In the samples above you can see the clamshell lighting in the eyes of the models (April and Stephanie). And I love the glowing highlights from the backlight. Very glamourous.
When I first started getting serious about the pictures I was taking I got some profoto studio strobes. I realized that images were not just about light, they were also about shadows. Shadows provide form to three dimensional subjects, and they also provide mystery.
Sometimes, shadows can be the subject. In the following image I was loving the effects of shooting studio strobe through the glass doors of a shower at the Hazelton hotel in Toronto. The subject, an outstanding model and artist, posed in the shower while I shot from outside the shower stall looking through the green tinted glass. Pure shadow play. And much fun.
Camera, Phase One DF with P65+ and Mamiya 28mm lens. f/8 for 1/125. Colour changes, much layering and editing and post card texture added in post production.
Over the holidays I had some time to spend working with my new Arca Swiss M-monoloth. For those that are not camera equipment geeks (I love technology), the Arca monolith is a view camera that focuses by moving the lens along a rail with a bellows. What is special about a view camera is the ability to:
- shift the lens and/or “film plane” up, down, left or right to correct (or distort) perspective, and
- tilt the lens and/or “film plane” forward, backward, left, right to place the plane of focus exactly where you want it to be.
Of course, I am not using film, but rather a P65+ medium format digital back.
Here is one of those shots.
The subject here is a closeup of a bottle (on the right) and a reflection of the other side of the bottle in a mirror. The lighting is tungsten which is warm, while the background is the reflection of outdoor light (which is blueish) coming through my sunroom and french doors. The lens tilt allows me to get the focus right where I want it to be: on the yellowish spot of light on the left and the reddish spot of light on the right. Without lens tilt I would have had to decide which spot of light I wanted to be in focus, (or take two images and blend them together in photoshop, or really stop down dramatically so that everything is in focus, which is not what I was after).
I rather like the colours. The blue background compliments the yellow, and the generally green glass complements the red. I like the shapes, the lines, the colours. I like this one.