Improving and growing as a photographer Part 2

Take Pictures of your Setup


If you do any kind of lighting whether it’s a portrait session, still life or product shot, grab a shot of your setup.

Every time you move your light closer, higher or change the distance, shoot the setup.

By doing so, you are taking notes visually so that when you are in front of your computer, you will be able to recall what happened when you either liked or disliked a particular frame.

I was fortunate enough to have a friend shoot some behind-the-scenes pictures in the basement.

Lesly against a grey backdrop was lit by a softbox in the foreground and a purple gel on behind her.
Lesly against a grey backdrop was lit by a softbox in the foreground and a purple gel on behind her.

Pay Attention to the Lighting in Movies

Next time you watch a truly captivating movie on your DVD player, pause or freeze the scene.

Think for a moment how the scene makes you feel.

If you’re having a particularly hard time, listen to the score or background music.

Identify  whether it’s happy, somber, scary, tense or exhilarating.

Then break down the lighting.

Notice the color of the skin tones.

Was the scene was lit by a warm cozy fire or did the actors look cold from their pallor and bluish skin color?

There’s usually one main light or ‘key’ light or bright light source.

The other light sources are secondary, just to fill in the shadows and to control contrast in the scene.

If you have a hard time figuring that out, look for the highlights and shadows.

This is how the cinematographer shows you what they consider important.

During a recent sweet sixteenth birthday, I used two Speedlites to feature mother and daughter by lighting them  better than the others present.

That is not to say, the entire scene was shot in darkness, just that the faces of the important or ‘key’ people in the shot are lit better than the others.

So along with lighting, camera angles tell the complete story of the cinematographer.

Get used to thinking of shadows, along with highlights, as your friend because they provide depth in an otherwise boring two-dimensional canvas.

In my own photography, I have had to remind myself about keeping an open mind.

In my previous life as a news photographer, I wasn’t allowed to remove by cloning in Photoshop.

If something was distracting in the picture, I had to shoot it such a way that it wasn’t so that the integrity of the scene was in tact.

Now that take pictures mostly for clients, I no longer have to live by those stringent rules especially if they aren’t for publication in the media.
Peter Phun Photography

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