Sunday, February 14, 2010

Photowalking Utah studio event

This year I had the honor and privilege to give back a little to the photographic community, by hosting one of the many studio setups at the photowalking utah studio event this year.

There must have been around 200 photographers at the event. I wanted to share a quick little write up about the setup I used and a little of why. Hopefully this will be a helpful reminder of the setup for those who may want information for future reference.

First off a diagram of the setup:

The setup I used doesn't formally have a name, though I have seen it used by other photogs in a similar fashion. The setup is very specular with a 3D quality, and at the same time soft. The setup also changed ever so slightly during the shoot (the diagram above and result shown directly below is the light as it evolved to the final state). I would be remiss without thanking Scott O. Smith for helping with gear and setup!

The setup consisted of two rear lights modified by soft boxes (one octa and one square). These create the rim lighting or lighting that creates the highlights in the hair and the sides of the face. Above (represented by the grey see through circle above the model) was a gridded beauty dish and a small silver reflector below. The beauty dish above combined with the reflector lights the face in the opposite direction as lights from behind. The beauty dish is what creates the highlights on the nose and chin. The only light visible as a catch light is that of the small reflector from below which mainly acts as fill.

A tighter crop of the above. See the light patterns...

The photo below is the exact same setup, except the beauty dish was moved about one foot back toward the back drop (again the beauty dish is the grey circle in the diagram above). Big difference right?

The lighting technique used was very precise, and requires for the model to be placed just so in relation to the location of the lights. Movement of a couple of inches creates a different look. In general studio lighting is precise, when compared to natural light (though this setup was more so than most). Moving the model slightly will change the light. The power of the light is very dependent on the distance from the model to the light source. Generally larger sources and having your light source further away from the model allow for more freedom of movement, but also require much more power to use.

Wow that was a mouth full...

So that was the how, now to the why: The light setup was intended to be "edgy" and "specular". This isn't a setup for doing family portraits. I wouldn't want this setup for cute little kids. This setup would be awesome on a guy with lots of hard features and a cut figure (think James Bond, Daniel Craig who my wife thinks is the hottest guy on the planet). It would look good on Male or Female athletes.

But honestly that is what is so cool about studio lighting. You can change it in million little ways do get different looks. I could reconfigure (using the same equipment) the lights and bam, I am ready to baby portraits etc. I was asked by about every other person who came through the line to shoot at the setup I was hosting, why I had the lights where I had them. I tried to explain what I explained above. That first, I setup up the lights to get the edgy look you see above, and second, you learn how to setup your lights as you use them (experience). I knew this setup would be edgy because I've used it before.

Now for some fun shots:

The first is of Scott Jarvie(Hit the link to see learn more about the shots). Amazing the fun look you can get from a ring flash and a Ultra Wide Angle lens.

One more of Jeremy:


Jeremy said...

Thanks for the info on the setup... And I love those shots! They look great on your black background blog!

Garrett said...

Very awesome lighting guide. Thanks, Nicole! What kind of beauty dish were you using? Handheld reflector?

Garrett said...

Er, not Nicolesy... lol. Sorry, Nathan!

Nathan Marx said...

Garret, The beauty dish is alienbee (as were all the lights and modifiers).

Glad to help...

jarvie said...

I loved this lighting setup!!
I actually stood in line to shoot on this one... nothing to do with the model. ;) haha

Great pictures at the end... now my profile picture.

Crystal said...

My favorite setup at the event. Thanks so much for sharing!

Ryan said...

Great setup. Rich choose wisely when he picked you to teach this. You did awesome. I learned a ton (more than I understood) with this write up I hope to understand more. Thanks for sharing.