Lighting 102: Discussion - Double-Duty Light

UPDATE #1: Adds killer shot that did not show up in tag search.

Report from Assignment 5.2 -- Double-Duty Light, in which you were asked to illustrate one of three concepts: Physical fitness, financial planning or going green. You were asked to stretch your lighting budget by reflecting and/or refracting one light source.

Lots of really cool stuff this time. We'll be looking at four examples, pointing to a few more and linking in to some photogs who went the extra mile and chose to blog or video their efforts -- after the jump.

Long story short, you guys turned out to be luminary contortionists. I hope you enjoyed finding out what one light could accoplish as much as I enjoyed watching you.

This is one of those times where there was an embarrassment of riches, as far as the number of good photos was concerned. So as visual examples, I am looking at three people who took different directions with their light. (No pun intended).

Leading off is Lbeetge and his "going green" theme.

He chose to start with strong, undiffused backlight, which he sent through his plant to make it glow. This hot light coming from back camera right (via a Sunpak 4205 flash) was easy to reflect back into front camera left using two silver reflector boards.

I love the way the plant goes a little nuclear. (Or, "nukuler," as our Commander-in-Chief says.)

Starting with a hard light from the back is a useful way to stretch your lumens budget, and it translates well to working with hard, directional sunlight, too. But since you can create hard, directional light any time you want with your speedlight, this is something you can do any time, anywhere.

Batting second is Nick.Flick, who managed to conjure up a whole studio for this one-source, wrapped-light photo.

The flash is coming in bare from back camera left. It is reflected by a mirror on camera right. (Thus, the "wrap.") A fill card is at camera front light to paint a nice soft light on the cans in front.

Still not exactly sure what he shot the flash through for the background light. (Even after looking at the setup shot...)

Third up, we have treeffe2000, who did pretty much everything except for project some birds and clouds into the sky on his background.

Flash comes in bare from back camera left, lighting the coins. It is then reflected from camera right, to light the coins from the other direction. (A piece of paper was also used above the coins to catch some raw light and paint a nice smooth tone.)

A mirror at camera left also catches some raw light and sends it through a house-shaped gobo to create the background image.

The setup shot is here. Bonus points for the Elliott Erwitt book on dogs. I love that one, too.

And batting clean-up (and a grand slam, IMO) is this shot which I marked earlier -- then missed it because it for some reason does not show up in the tag search.

It is by The Light Whisperer, which is an appropriate name as far as I am concerned.

One light.

I am proud to say that I was able to reverse engineer it - but only by narrowing it down to two guesses. Try to figure it out before clicking through to the photo to see it bigger and read how it was done. This is an slick idea, and I never would have thought if it. Triple aces.

Neat stuff, all. And if you want to see more, check out:

• Paul Morton's penny -- setup shot here

Jon's dime -- link is to a how-to post

• Meyerson posted on his quarter shot, here

• D. W. Heywood's racquetball player

• Steve's aging muscles

• Nick's nest egg -- with a how-to video

• And (other) Nick's bucket-o-coin, which took the cake for most complex -- setup here

(You can see everyone's tagged stuff here.)

Which did you like best? Why? And, while we are asking questions, where's mine?

Dog ate my homework.

(Just kidding. It's coming next. But I won't be topping that $100 egg...)

Next: My shot.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting. I liked

Aesthetically, Nick.Flick's cans works great. The art direction is spot on, with the high shine in the gold, the blue which is emphasized by the background light, and the red providing balance. It really works nicely.

Lbeetge's shot is powerful, and his model's expression is right. It might be nice to see the entire hand.

But the winner, based on concept, is treeffe2000. The shot is humorous and cute. Two minor changes I'd like to see: balance the background vignette for a full circle aaround the house; close down a few stops to extend the depth of field to all the candy coins.

Great work by all.


March 10, 2008 2:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like the can shot background light wasn't shot through anything...if you look at the shadow of the mirrors, the mirror lighting the background is circular (leading the the shape in the background).

March 10, 2008 2:49 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Why wasn't the picture of the egg and 100 dollar bills by the Light Whisperer at the bottom of the discussion page included? That picture was stretching one light really cool.

March 10, 2008 3:06 AM  
Blogger David said...

CRAP! I completely forgot about that! Had it bookmarked and everything a week ago. Gonna update now.

That's what happens when you start writing after midnite.


March 10, 2008 3:09 AM  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

Hey David!

You certainly had a lot of images to sort through for this one. Thanks for including mine as one of your picks, I'm honored!

Actually, my two favorites from the assignment didn't make your list, maybe they weren't conceptually quite what you were looking for, but the photography is fantastic.
They were "Financial Reflections" with the $100 bill projected onto the egg, and "Muck...Brass".
Both of these pictures absolutely amazed me in what they were able to accomplish with one light...

Cycle61 Photography

March 10, 2008 3:13 AM  
Blogger David said...

Now I know why I missed it. For some reason, it is not coming up in the tag search. Cannot figure out why, unless he is a new member or something.

Adding now.

Thanks again. That is an amazing photo.

March 10, 2008 3:15 AM  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

March 10, 2008 3:15 AM  
Anonymous Louis Beetge said...

Firt of all David, thanks for including my picture. It is an honor and has totally made my week.

I agree with anonymous about the hand in my shot. It was a little bit difficult framing the picture correctly when you're running between the rear of the camera and the front.

First time in ages I wore a tie. I suffer for my art. ;)

March 10, 2008 4:57 AM  
Anonymous Steve said...


Nick.Flick's can shot gets its circular background from the circular mirror on the right hand side of the setup shot. There are two mirrors over there.

March 10, 2008 8:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Nick.Flick's shot, it looks like the mirror at camera right is what's providing the background light; I don't believe it's lighting the cans. It looks like a round magnifying mirror that almost gives a focus effect. The paper/card behind the mirror is what's filling the can's on the right.

March 10, 2008 11:36 AM  
Blogger Tammy Cravit said...

Lots of really clever stuff submitted this time. Congratulations to the four who were selected - great work there!

And, I'm not shy about admitting that even with the setup shot, I had to draw a diagram of where the light rays were going before I really understood what thelightwhisperer was doing there. Nicely done.

March 10, 2008 12:14 PM  
Blogger treeffe said...

David, It has been an honour to be selected for this assignment.

My preferite is the Lbeetge's shot, the glow on leaves make the photo!

Thank you again for the great work you're doing for this growing community.

Best regards from Italy

March 10, 2008 12:32 PM  
Blogger nick.flick said...

Hi guys, I shot the cans, and I thought I would clear up the fill / mirror debate.
On camera right there are 2 mirrors, one aimed directly back across at the flash, the other angled toward the background. The colour was split at source. There is a white fill card behind both mirrors, and in the final frame a large one to fill from above.

March 10, 2008 1:54 PM  
Blogger nick.flick said...

Oh yeah, most importantly i would like to thank David for adding my picture and for his wealth of knowledge. I thought strobes were pretty scary about 6 weeks ago.

i might wear a tie too, but round my head like rambo

March 10, 2008 2:16 PM  
Anonymous Douglas Urner said...

nick.flick - is that a magnifying mirror that is lighting up the background? One that is slightly concave?

March 10, 2008 6:41 PM  
Anonymous ShutterBug1997 said...

I feel so unworthy seeing such creative and technical shots like these winners (all of them are winners to me).

Even though I missed the deadline for this assignment I think I'm gonna go ahead and try it myself anyways.

Thanks DH for posting this.

March 10, 2008 7:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi David
Thank you for including my picture in the Discussion and for the comments about it. It is an honor. I am new on flickr but have been reading a year or two. You make us think, specially now, throwing curves balls at us, like concepts. It was an honor that you noticed my pic about an hour after I put it up. Are you kidding? You are the Strobist.

PS also thanks to Michelle and Nick for mentioning me.

Cesar S
The Light Whisperer

March 10, 2008 10:22 PM  
Blogger nick.flick said...

In reply to Douglas, both mirrors were cheap £2 magnifying mirrors from the local supermarket.

March 11, 2008 3:29 AM  
Anonymous jmh said...

Check the great headshot with mirror in 3/18/2008 business front page of the NY Times.

March 18, 2008 6:27 PM  
Blogger Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Very cool lighting post and blog. I loved the photos.


June 05, 2008 4:22 PM  
Blogger Gael said...

Hi David,

Reading the above article, and training my light reverse engineering skills, I'd bet that the miror used for the backdrop was a shaving mirror.

Very smart indeed to concentrate light in a nice round spot.


May 20, 2009 2:43 PM  

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