There is also a rectangular north-facing window which is really not a factor in lighting. It is heavily tinted.
I have a space about 18 feetÂ wide by 36 feet long, 3/4 of that space is taken up by computers and desks.
So studio/demo space =Â 18 x 10 feet.
For this very basic lesson in lighting and portraiture, with no discussion of light ratios whatsoever, I used:
- 2 Rokunar flash units
- open door
- off-white sheet and black sheet.
- G4 17″ powerbook for tethered shooting
- Canon 40D, 50mm f1.4, 100mm f2.8 lens
Set up One: 1 light and open door
The one flash is bounced into a silver reflector, the door is open to light the background.
I was shooting tethered to my powerbook so that everyone could see instantly how the image looks with every little adjustment.
The regular flat male end goes to your computer’s USB port and the mini female end which is smaller goes into your camera body.
If you’re a Nikon or Canon user, those disks which came with your camera should include the application you need.
Special thanks to Chris Reed for providing me with these shots of the setups and behind-the-scenes views.
The light from the Rokunar flash units are sort of controlled by the barn doors which I duct taped to the unit to give me some measure of control.
The flash is triggered by those “ebay slaves” loaned to me by class tutor Keith.
Those radio slaves work well for a setting like this.
Anytime you don’t have to be tethered by hard wired to your lights is a good thing.
It means you can shoot with longer focal lenses. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scrambled to rescue a falling lightstand because I forgot I reached the end of my synch cord.
Set up Two: 2 lights, door closed
In case you didn’t notice, let me point out where there’s a problem.
Against the white backdrop there is contamination of my light from the red-colored light bouncing back and lighting her hair.
Some might find this cool. I’ll let you decide for yourself.
I prefer not to have something that looks unnatural. Click on the picture to see a bigger version and you’ll see what I mean where her hair meets the background.
So how else can we improve on this picture?
If I had more room in this situation, I would move Roxanne further away from the backdrop. Why?
- That nasty weird red light that spilled back on her hair would be gone
- The background would be even more out of focus
Setup Three: 2 lights & black backdrop
I also introduced a large reflector underneath.
That makes Roxanne’s eyes come alive.
Most obvious things to notice.
The image of Roxanne really pops.The human eye loves contrast.
In the previous picture taken against the light white background, even photographed against a red background, Roxanne was “lost”.
Our eyes drifts to the lightest portion of any image first automatically.
Now that the background is dark, our attention is drawn to her and in particular her eyes?
Final note: dangers of foreshortening
What exactly is this phenomenon? First off, I want to apologize to Cynthea for using her picture to illustrate this.
If you’re not careful when you’re doing a portrait, you can actually come too close to your subject even with something like a 50 mm (more like a 85 mm on my Canon 40D with its 1.6 magnification factor)
The bottom picture taken with a 100 mm lens shows her face and nose in proportion.
To illustrate this I made a rough selection around Cynthea’s nose in the top picture and I’ve saved it as photoshop document.
If you have photoshop, download this layered file and see for yourself.
Double click and the file should unzip into a file named “cynthea.tif” Open the file in photoshop. You’ll see 2 layers. Using the Move tool, drag the “selected nose” over the one in the picture for comparison.
Those of you wondering what kind of brand is Rokunar. I can only say they’re the strangest looking studio flashes I’ve ever seen.
They were sitting in a friend’s garage. He handed this bag to me one day. I looked inside and found 3 Rokunar heads.
They don’t recycle very fast, so I shot them on 1/16 power in this situation. At iso 100, the gave me f2 which is plenty for a portrait of 1 person.
The strange hairlight or backlight has no power output control. All three have built-in slaves so I can trigger them by using any flash.
In any case, these are not the black line Speedotrons or even the White Lightnings. They are quite basic. Surprisingly they do come with modeling lights.
When I have more time, I’ll have to make some sort of light modifier so that I can get a more reliable spread for this back light.