Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hanging Loose with Bil Zelman

Around here we sometimes get bogged down in the technical aspects of light. That's okay. This is a niche site and we are not trying to be all things to all people.

But balance is important in photography, even in the technical stuff itself. So today, we are going full-bore non-technical by visiting with San Diego-based photographer Bil Zelman. His airy, moment-oriented photos are loose, honest and have an unscripted, natural feel to them.

It's almost as if he whips out the old 127 film camera from the '70's, fires from the hip and all of the planets line up. Except that Bil puts a lot of work and conscious thought into making sure all of those planets line up right when and where he needs them.

Video, pix and Q&A, after the jump.
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I was introduced to Bil's work through an excellent interview in A Photo Editor. In it, he talks about why he engages in pro bono work for selected charities, and what he gets out of it.

I encourage you to check out the interview, even if you do not think you are interested in that type of work. He makes a great case (much better than I did) for the mutual downstream benefits, which are significant.

Appropriately, Bil's style is one that can flit effortlessly between his pro bono charity work and high-end commercial work. Take a look at the following video to get a sense of who he is before hitting the Q&A below.



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Q&A

When we spoke earlier on the phone, you mentioned that your initial focus on a shoot is not on light but rather on determining the emotional needs of your subject. You also have very little time in many cases. What kind of an intersection are you looking for during those few initial moments? Are you well-researched or winging it?


Every shoot has different needs. If you're shooting someone with a tight schedule, as celebrity personalities usually have, you've got to be prepared to get a great shot in 10 or 20 minutes -- regardless of how they feel.  

It's usually impossible to gain someone's trust in 20 minutes, both in real life and on set. But I try to be genuine and involved in their part of the process as much as possible -- even if it's not necessary.  Helping them to make wardrobe choices and showing interest in what color eye shadow the stylist is going with are tiny, easy little things that let people know that I really care about making this photo. And they’re that much more likely to trust my opinions later if I'm pushing them to do something unexpected.



Knowing current things about the person really makes small talk that much easier, and I do try and hold conversation while shooting whenever possible. If what I'm doing is so technical that I can't entertain them, I'll sometimes have a trusted assistant ask them a question or hold their interest. On my first shoot with Taylor Swift, I actually brought a friend of mine who is a guitarist and the two of them ended up playing while I shot.

Shooting good portraits is equal parts psychology, trust and technical expertise -- with the technical part probably being the least important.  (I'm going to get hate mail writing things like that here huh?).



Your shooting style is loose and natural, and yet the light always seems to to be working for you in lots of subtle ways. Can you talk about why you frequently prefer to use dark cloths for subtractive lighting rather than working above the ambient with strobes?

For one thing, it's easier and often faster to set up a few black cloths than to drag out the packs, heads, modifiers, run power cables or generators etc.

I easily own $25k in lighting gear -- Speedotrons, Dynalite, Elinchrom gear etc, -- and often pack it all into a cargo van and bring it along just in case. But the best results are often found more simply. If I can find nice flat light, and sculpt it into something more contrasty and dimensional, it looks a lot more natural. I don't have to worry about staying within shutter sync or using ND filtration to knock things down, waiting for recycle times or having all those incredibly annoying flashes going off and ruining the mood. (Sorry Strobists!)  

And don't get me wrong- There's a time and place for strobe, but it's only a tool and there are lots of other ways to work. In order for me to achieve a very natural looking light source with strobes and still have room for my subject to move around, I'd need HUGE light banks like the ones car shooters use.  



I remember that you specifically had it in for "green uplighting," as you called the light reflecting off of grass outdoors. That is to say that you love to kill it with a dark cloth on the ground. Can you really help shape someone's face with just a black cloth on the ground?


Absolutely. Everyone ends up shooting in mid-day sun and positioning their subject in the shade of a tree at sometime or another. When that person's standing there they have two light sources: The blue light coming from the sky above and a bright green light coming from the sun hitting the grass below. You can't color balance for them both. What ends up happening is you set your white balance or filtration to warm the scene and take out the blue main light, and leave this bright green "up light" under their chin and in the sockets of their eyes, etc. I see it all the time in print.

Throwing a cheap black cloth on the ground in front of them not only corrects the color issue, but it also gives the lighting more contrast on the vertical axis. Which, in turn, gives everyone a better looking chin line, which makes people look thinner, etc.



Ideally, in this situation I'd throw an 8x8 cloth on the ground and set two black 6x6 scrims on either side to bring out their cheek bones. This configuration is the one use on the Tommy Shaw portrait and the blurry female model as well -- both of which were shot in backyards in "normal shade".
 
For the record, I had a sail maker sew pieces of black Duvateen together into 8x8, 12x12 and 18x24 configurations, along with grommet holes every 16 inches which can then be tied to regular background stands and raised.  Scrim Jim makes great frames, although they're pricey and there are other options. You could buy black cloth anywhere and have someone hand hold it, throw it over two ladders -- whatever. The camera won’t know you didn’t have a sail maker sew them up.

Also, black felt is actually shiny at a forty-five degree angle and doesn’t work very well.  Stick with the dull stuff the movie industry uses like Duvateen if you can.



One thing you said in an earlier conversation really stuck with me: "Focus is overrated." As a long-time news / sports shooter, that kinda made my head explode a little. But at the same time, the look resonates. What is it that will make you decide to veer so far away from convention on a shoot? Do you play it safe and shoot both ways? That must take a lot of confidence in your personal vision -- how do your clients react to this?


This brings a smile to my face. One of my best commercial clients has often offered to pay me more if I’ll make more of the images sharp. But I still like to shake the camera...

As far as blur goes there are all kind of beautiful things you can do with it. (But please, no more 1995 ”pop-the-flash-and-drag-the-shutter stuff”). You see it in great work everywhere from Richard Avedon to Sally Mann to Robert Capa.

Like anything, it’s a style thing. Standing still and racking your lens out of focus probably won’t be very interesting. But if you're walking backwards and you're subject is waking towards you and you're shooting at a 30th with a 50mm, you’ll probably get frames where the person has motion blur and the background doesn’t and vica-versa. This can bring a lot of excitement to a shot, separate the subject from the environment and also give your subject something to do other than stand there and look at you. Make your subject DO THINGS.

One of my favorite looks is shooting T-Max 3200 and shaking the camera while I shoot. The image comes out soft, but the large grain gives your eye something to focus on when you’re viewing the print. Visual texture is something fine print makers used to talk about all the time, from grain structure modification with developers to darkroom paper choices. But most of those things are now overlooked. Blur can be one of them.  

I’ve kept my Nikon D2x solely for it’s awful noise at high ISO for just these reasons. It can be painterly and gorgeous with the right subject matter.



In general, many of your photos are stripped of the Nth-degree technicals and are built entirely on emotion and moment -- a leap of faith that is impossible for many photographers to make. How did you make that jump? A little at a time, or all at once? How has it changed you?


You know, this is so hard to answer!  

I’ve always shot very quickly and playfully with a lot of direction and background changes. I don’t believe that there’s a single image on my website that’s been cropped at all, and I’ve always been that way.  

I take the kind of photos that don’t really need much screwing around with, I suppose. And I wouldn’t be the guy to do it if they weren’t. Photoshop was something I resisted using for years, but I’m now pretty good with it and clean things up and sometimes remove things and such. But I would never use it to try and make a dull photo interesting -- which we now see a lot of.

People have been making remarkably impactful images for 150 years without HDR or high pass filters and I suppose I’ll end up being one of them. Perhaps I’m boring?



Don't take this the wrong way, because it is meant as a compliment: In many ways, your work has evolved (or maybe regressed?) into a look that is almost childlike. Like those projects that give cameras to a group of kids and edit the take down to beautiful work that is free of convention and restriction. If you could talk to yourself as a photographer 20 years ago, what advice would you give?



Can we say naiveté in place of childlike? I once had an art history professor refer to the naiveté of Julia Margaret Cameron's work and I thought it to be so poignant. I don’t believe I’ve even thought of that moment until now, but it’s interesting because she played with focus and blur and time exposures and was largely ridiculed for it. But try and purchase one of her photos now!

I suppose I’ve always wanted to believe that some photos are real, and leaving in a few mistakes and not being technically obsessed helps me with this. It’s almost as if I’m documenting my own photo shoots if that makes any sense at all? Method acting and letting people be who they are. (You can actually see one of my black cloths and stands in the blurry shot of the girl...)

If I had to give advice to anyone at all, it might be to know your tools inside and out, but not let them get in the way.  I can go from a 125th to a 30th and from f2.8 to 5.6 while walking backwards and holding conversation without missing a beat. Add too much more to that equation and I’m paying more attention to my gear than to my subject -- not a good thing.

That, and take lots and lots of pictures.
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See more of Bil's work at Zelman Studios.

(All photos © Bil Zelman.)


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63 Comments:

Blogger kRace said...

This was actually a really refreshing post! I just had a shoot today, and though I got some great photos, I found I was letting myself get too distracted by the technical. I caught myself a couple times and struck up some conversation, actually paid some interest into the model aside and not the shoot. But still, it was bad of me.

Great article! And the black sheets just make so much sense!

February 10, 2009 12:28 AM  
Anonymous Nionyn said...

Very thought-provoking, and he seems like a nice guy too.
Excellent - liked it a lot.
Thank you. :-)
Cheers, Nionyn

February 10, 2009 12:30 AM  
Blogger Marcus said...

That was a fantastic interview, both the questions and the responses. And check out Bil Zelman's blog on his website, hilarious.

February 10, 2009 1:15 AM  
Blogger Alex DiFiori said...

I generally (when shooting a two-light portrait) set up a main light off-camera on manual then throw a speed light on my camera set to TTL with a -1.3~7 compensation.
This lets me move around the subject while retaining my fill light's power without having to adjust it every time I take a step back or forward.
Because I'm not fiddling with any flashes or camera settings, I can shoot and talk without thinking about either. I have for sure seen a great improvement in my lit portrait work since I started using this setup.

February 10, 2009 1:26 AM  
Blogger Phat Baby Photographer said...

I love the notion of subtractive lighting. Photographing kids, they're always moving around which makes it difficult to meter (and position) the strobes for a desired effect. I wonder if subtractive lighting is more forgiving or could be made to be more forgiving.

February 10, 2009 1:28 AM  
Blogger Diego Lorenzo Jose said...

What a great post. Thanks for sharing.

February 10, 2009 1:48 AM  
Anonymous Andrushka said...

i really enjoyed this interview - the black fabric tip and Bil's desire for reality and emotion connection over technicality were especially refreshing. Definitely gave me some new ideas!

February 10, 2009 2:14 AM  
Anonymous Andy said...

What a wonderful photographer. He puts the zest back into it.

February 10, 2009 3:27 AM  
Anonymous Jens said...

great interview and i would loike to reda/learn more about the concept of subtractive lighting here on strobist.

February 10, 2009 3:29 AM  
Blogger Your Average Mat said...

Cool tips with the black cloth. Got to try it some time.

February 10, 2009 3:33 AM  
Blogger Rey Bugia said...

Checked out his website and saw a number of hate mails. Maybe you can have a topic on this "photojournalism" crap that's spreading. really not good for serious photographers. Let's leave this style to those who shoot for newspapers

February 10, 2009 3:42 AM  
Anonymous Mark. said...

An excellent interview and a refreshing angle on the lighting gig. I am definitely going to look at ways to remove light as well as add.

February 10, 2009 4:48 AM  
Blogger Rave said...

Great post and informative. Thank you.

February 10, 2009 7:46 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Very interesting work. I'd be interested in learning more about the camera he built himself, the one he referanced with the Ozzy image.

February 10, 2009 7:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went over to his website - I really like his blog!!

February 10, 2009 7:59 AM  
Blogger Chris Kocher said...

I don't comment much, but I visit your site nearly everyday. I love what you're doing here, and this posting is a perfect example of why. You bring together a love of photography, a mastery of the technical, a respect for capturing beauty, and you house them all in an approachable, friendly, and inviting manner that gives hope and support to all of us other photogs trying to piece together a living and maintain true to ourselves as artist.

thanks.

chris

February 10, 2009 8:18 AM  
Blogger Gustavo Santos said...

I'm not familiar with Bil's work, but he must be a true artist... while everyone else tells you to add MORE light on the scene, every time, he chooses totally the other way round and cuts-off light... wow, boy, I've got so much to learn!

February 10, 2009 8:24 AM  
Blogger matt said...

loved the Q&A - incredibly insightful. I've been trying to put more creative thought into my images lately, and less technical thought. It's not easy. Glad to read a piece like this on Strobist, keep them coming!

February 10, 2009 8:43 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Excellent!! I must admit that I've been so engrossed in the technical stuff lately, and because of that I've been missing out on the important stuff. Great article to bring me back down to earth. Thanks for posting this!

February 10, 2009 8:53 AM  
Blogger Ellis Vener said...

I am a big believer in both the minimalist (less can be more) and the maximalist (more can be more) approach to commercial / professional work.

Like Zelman, I'll bring along a Honda Element full of lighting and grip gear so I have it available IF the photo calls for it. But sometimes all I need to add, if anything, is a single speedlight along with shooting "raw" instead of JPEGs and a good solid tripod.

For example on the annual report I just finished shooting, of the three most successful photos, one was needed the kitchen sink approach and raw processing needs were minimal -- just taking care of the white balance and using Lightroom's recovery slider to bring in the detail in some bright highlights.

The next shoot, a group of executives at a steel fabrication facility, required only an SB-900 as the existing light in the location was already very dramatic to the naked eye – shafts of early morning light pierced the dark smoky interior of a large workshop dimly lit by orange sodium vapor lights punctuated by the flash of a welder’s arc and the red rooster tail of sparks from anther guy grinding steel. The SB-900 illuminated the faces of a group of executives in the foreground while a longish exposure brought up the ambient exposure to an appropriate level of darkness.

Both situations are examples of my available light approach: Use the light(s) you have available and solve the problem by making the best-looking photo you can.

Ellis Vener
www.ellisvener.com

February 10, 2009 9:34 AM  
OpenID stephenzeller said...

A break from the technical gouge was definitely a nice change of scenery.

Thanks for sharing the great interview!

February 10, 2009 10:15 AM  
Anonymous Randall said...

Excellent interview. Subtractive lighting techniques will certainly live at the front of my brain for the next few days. A subject worth further exploration. And Bill's approach reminds one that the objective in lighting is to draw attention to the subject, not to the light itself. Subtlety versus quantity.

February 10, 2009 11:25 AM  
Blogger Kevin Fischer said...

Thanks David for the post and thanks Bil for the insight.

February 10, 2009 11:43 AM  
Anonymous Cuki (UK) said...

Wow, what a great interview! I've got a sudden urge to learn more about this subtractive lighting stuff. Time to start lookin' for some cheap Duvetyn in the UK... And what a great way to put some things into perspective, from this artist I heard nothing about before! Thanks for sharing!

February 10, 2009 12:12 PM  
Blogger Kyle Vaughn - Photographer said...

Thanks this was a great article and very inspiring.

February 10, 2009 12:33 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Terrific post! Thanks for continuing to throw out different ideas an perspectives.

Jonathan
www.bluephoto.biz

February 10, 2009 12:43 PM  
Blogger jeff said...

I really enjoyed the interview and the images. I find it interesting that he does not obsess about technical details however, he puts a black cloth on grass to prevent the green from messing up the color balance. I hear other extremely experience photographers say similar things and I suspect that the technical part is so second nature to them that they don't realize any more how important it is to their images. I think it is a lesson for those of us with less experience that once the technical stuff becomes second nature, you can really focus on your artistic vision.

February 10, 2009 12:55 PM  
Anonymous Brandon said...

Thanks for insights into another great photographer. Really enjoyed this interview!

-Brandon

February 10, 2009 1:18 PM  
Anonymous Mark said...

Geez, that's an awesome interview.

February 10, 2009 1:50 PM  
Blogger Danie Nel said...

Always loved black cloth. Found black matt pvc to work nicely as well, and rolls up neatly onto poles. Or simply use the back of the Lastolite.

My whole studio is black, with only the curve being white...all else, black!

February 10, 2009 2:13 PM  
Anonymous Jason said...

I admit to being too caught up in the technical aspects of lighting. This interview is exactly what's needed to help challenge the mind a bit. David, you've probably been told a zillion times, but I'll say it again: Thank you.

February 10, 2009 3:51 PM  
Anonymous Matt Haines said...

I can definitely see the upside to working with either subtractive lighting or even just reflectors: what you see is what you get. no batteries. no shoot, adjust, repeat (well ok, less of that). like many others who read this, i then googled "subtractive lighting". :)

the downside though, at least for those of us working alone, is...well, we're working along. imagine setting this stuff up on a windy day, by yourself, and the client is afraid to come near and get clobbered by 20 square feet of black 'kite'. you either need an assistant or two, or suddenly the amount of weight you're packing goes up tremendously.

this technique also runs into problems when you have a light background: a wall, the sky, whatever. with flash, you can knock down the ambient. with subtractive, all you can do is expose for the face and blow out whatever's lighter than the face. forget having moody skies with a brighter subject!

so what that really tells me is, this technique is good at times and not at others. just like off-camera small-flash technique works sometimes and not others. and that you must have a really big truck to carry everything. including the assistants.

February 10, 2009 4:39 PM  
Blogger aries67 said...

Fantastic interview! A nice reminder to do your own "thing" in spite of all the technical stuff you learn.

Using the black cloth on the ground to shape the face - brilliant!

Walking backwards with your subject - just up my alley! (Although I don't think I could all my camera settings as quickly!)

February 10, 2009 5:24 PM  
Blogger Paulo Rodrigues said...

What a fabulous post. Its always great hearing other people talk about how they do things

February 10, 2009 7:01 PM  
Blogger Heipel said...

Few things more interesting (or educational) than getting to listen in as two people at the top of their games have a chat about what they're good at and love.

Excellent post.

Thanks!

February 10, 2009 8:02 PM  
Anonymous Thomas Pickard said...

If you reckon his BLOG link is funny, you should look at PRESS - HATE MAIL on Bill's site.

February 10, 2009 8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok David... you brought it up here, now you're gonna have to at least touch on this subtractive lighting concept. Great subject today! I love strobist emails. Like opening up a Christmas present. Thanks.

February 10, 2009 8:21 PM  
Anonymous Cuki (UK) said...

It's been quite a while since I'm aware of the usage of black "reflectors" to absorb unwanted light spills on the subject. But somehow I've always associated it with studio lighting. And I've never bothered trying it. What stroked me in this post is the simple concept of modeling the shadows, of "sculpting" out of some flat natural light with it. Oh, wait a minute, that's a whole different animal! And it should've been so obvious...

February 10, 2009 8:24 PM  
Anonymous Raymond said...

That's a great post and very inspirational. I'm proud of the fact that I understood it and it made sense to me -- that wouldn't have been the case a year ago. And it's due to David Hobby and Jeff Curto. But understanding is one thing, doing is another. At least though I see a way forward.

February 10, 2009 8:34 PM  
Blogger avisioncame said...

I noticed the photo of John Legend. His is from my town, Springfield Ohio! I was actually in a drawing class with his brother Von!

February 10, 2009 8:50 PM  
Anonymous ShutterBug1997 said...

This was a great interview. I like seeing photographers focus (no pun intended) more on the results or mood rather than the gear or tech side. I often find I am more emotionally drawn to images created with feeling than gear.

Thanks DH for the great post and thanks to your guest for the interview.

February 10, 2009 10:53 PM  
Anonymous Matteo said...

good tips, great photographer... follow this blog people!

February 11, 2009 2:56 AM  
Anonymous Wedding Photographer France said...

Excellent post - I really enjoy your photographers' interviews - it gives me insight into the person behind the lens, the reasoning going into the shooting and helps me see things differently.

Keep them coming!

Blaise

February 11, 2009 3:05 AM  
Blogger Hilton Hamann said...

What a great article. I always learn something here.
Thanks
~Hilton~
www.thelightstuff.blogspot.com
A photojournalist's musings mainly about photography

February 11, 2009 4:03 AM  
Anonymous Cody said...

Dave,

I'm not sure where to ask this question, so this seems the best place to start.

Due to work, life, etc. I can't be on this site studying 101 and 102 as much as I would like.

Question: Would it be possible to download/copy 101 and 102 and make it into a blurb book for my personal use. I won't sell it, I promise. In fact, if you'll give me the ability to download the photos with each lesson I'll make it into a blurb book and you can sell it.

Let me know.

Thanks and keep up the good work!
Cody

February 11, 2009 7:29 AM  
OpenID thecreativecontrol said...

Really intriguing post here. I would love to read more about the "non-technical" stuff on here, although I enjoy and am reading every post.

I have a photo shoot today and will try to play around with blur while I know that I have my working lighting set-up.

Really had to smile when he wrote that the 1995 flash-and-drag-technique is a no-no, while hearing about it from you so often, David.
It's cool!

February 11, 2009 7:41 AM  
Blogger captaindash said...

An instruction manual teaches you what a product can do. It doesn't teach you HOW to use it. There's a big difference. This post taught me, or gave me as many ideas on light and technique as any 1/10 fstop OCD post anyone could make. Knowing what walking backwards at 1/30th does is one thing, knowing why is a whole 'nother ballgame. I couldn't be happier with this post. If schools taught like this, then I'd have gone to one. Instead, I have my own studio off of interesting books and inspiration from posts like this. There's more than one way to learn.

February 11, 2009 3:03 PM  
Blogger Zak.Shelhamer said...

Good read, thanks

February 11, 2009 3:59 PM  
Anonymous Portland Advertising Photographer said...

Thank you!

I spent a long time focusing on the technical side of things and always trying to shoot everything with flash rather than making choices based on my end goal. People get a little confused on the meaning of strobist I think and start to think flash always makes an image better. Anyway with such a large following I think it's great for them to see there is another way outside of using flash to create great images even if that’s not the focus of the blog.


Cheers
Alleh

February 11, 2009 4:28 PM  
Anonymous Patrick Love said...

Thank you for sharing such a great interview.

February 11, 2009 6:18 PM  
Anonymous Dave Kee said...

I noticed that none of Bil's critics on his blog could spell. The net is really showing the growing problem of illiteracy in our country. Especially among those who consider themselves expert photographers ;-).

February 11, 2009 8:04 PM  
Blogger Eric Chan said...

Excellent interview. Never thought of using subtractive lighting on the grass, it just makes so much sense!

Definitely less gear and more brains, despite the fact that no strobes will be fired :)

February 12, 2009 2:45 AM  
Blogger ashish said...

what a real efforty photographer!!!

great interview and i would loike to reda/learn more about the concept of subtractive lighting here on strobist.

February 12, 2009 3:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't get to Bil Zelman's blog, I get stuck at a "We hate / blogs" image, with no further links. Is the blog still up? Can someone please post a direct link? Thanks!

February 12, 2009 9:00 PM  
Anonymous Cuki (UK) said...

There was this guy, Leon Kennamer from Alabama, whose name seems to pop up anytime one refers to subtractive lighting. Looks like he's been an idol and teacher to many a pro photographer. Unfortunately, after quite some digging online I've only found a couple of second-hand reports about his elaborate method, and no picture at all. Could someone please shed some light into his shadow-making art?

February 12, 2009 9:49 PM  
Anonymous Chicago photographer said...

Good to see a balance of knowing when concerns about technique can get in the way of good images. A good examination of the difference between making a picture, and making a picture meaningful.

February 13, 2009 1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another who speaks well about working for free. http://www.aphotoeditor.com/2009/02/06/andy-anderson-interview/

February 13, 2009 11:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are truly refreshing. In a world of "must have, must do, must be" photography, one can get trapped in feelings of what they must become, just in order to be a photographer. Your free style and grace is great to see from a shooter who is making it! Thank you for sharing yourself so the rest of us can use our free spirits and not feel like we have to fit into a mold, just to make it.

February 16, 2009 9:16 PM  
Anonymous Tony said...

Great interview! thanks for sharing with us.

February 19, 2009 1:25 AM  
Anonymous Mark W said...

Great interview, and a refreshing change to see someone espousing the virtues of shaping natural light - made me feel quite good about my own work. Much as I enjoy working with flash, I'm probably happiest working in an environment with great natural light and plenty of nooks and crannies with different textures to shape it with. Anyone from inner London who's familiar with the old Victorian brick primary schools, with their labyrinthine corridors and big, high windows will know what I mean. Sublime.

Also the emphasis Bill places on the texture of the image itself e.g. using t-max 3200, used to such great effect by Anton Corbijn with U2. I've always loved film grain, and often add noise to my digital images in BW for just this reason - not so great on screen, but fabulous on large prints.

February 19, 2009 3:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Subtractive lighting with the black cloth is one of the most effective tools for out door lighting, as Matt said it has its place and time and can be hard to handle by yourself.
You have to look at other possibilities, if your outside on a dark overcast day throw a black cloth over top of the subject expose for the subject and your dark day is suddenly bright.
Use it in conjunction with flash to shape the light outside, I personally couldn't shoot outside with out the help of black duvatine and white parachute silk both of which can be ordered from www.rosebrand.com
Check out some of Peter Lindberghs work if you want to see some effective use of black cloth and a bunch of assistants.

February 21, 2009 3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this posting. It made me have an ah ha moment. I am going to use this. Sometimes you have to make new rules and then break them like that.
judith@judithpszenica.com
www.judithpszenica.com

February 22, 2009 10:38 PM  
Blogger dzine said...

I have what I think is a very nice quote from Etore Stottsass, if you've not heard of him you may have heard of the group he started, Memphis.
"design is an instrument for discussing life, social relationships, politics, food, and even design itself."

Respectfully,

David Zelman

April 01, 2009 12:03 PM  

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