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On Assignment: Eke in Paris

Shortly after we shot Michael during the afternoon session of the Paris Seminar, we photographed Eke in the same room. Since we did this all with hard, restricted light, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about during this section of Lighting 102.

In this photo, we use four speedlights to create zones of light in just two places: Around Eke and on the background.

Not to take anything away from Eke, but the background in this case was a beautiful hunk of sculpted wood that just made the room. So, I thought I would put him in front of it and do a little sculpting on Eke with multidirectional, hard light.

Hit the jump to see how we built the light.

Here is the same backdrop, lit by soft, neutral-colored light (through an umbrella) for a shot done earlier in the afternoon. For Eke, I wanted to bring out the color of the wood with a warming gel. Since we were lighting on separate planes, this would be very easy to do. But first we had to light Eke.

I started with a couple of SB's on low-power (in manual mode) with snoots on them. The snoots were there for two reasons. First, we were just lighting Eke's zone. Second, we wanted to keep the light from flaring into the camera.

Without snoots (or gobos of some kind) the lights would have flared pretty badly, as they were pointed in the general direction of the camera from the back/sides of Eke.

Second we added a gridded light from the front, to light Eke's face and complete the three-way wrap of light around him. Since the front light was fired through a grid spot, the light falls off as it gets lower on his body. This helps to guide the eye toward his face.

The grid, along with the angle of the front light, keeps it from spilling badly on the background. This was important to me, because I wanted to keep the light on the back wooden panel warm.

So that's what we did next. The backgound flash came in from back camera left, and was gelled with a CTO, which is a standard daylight-to-tungsten conversion gel.

To add a little shape to the tones on the background, I snooted that light, too. This seals the top and bottom of the frame with a lower tonal range, adding a little interest to the background. Snoots are very useful for making light more interesting, and I almost never use hard light without them. And if I am not using a snoot, I am probably gridding, or at least gobo'ing the light in some way.

To separate Eke from the background a little more, we decided to cool down his rim lighting a little. This was easily done with a CTB gel (cooling gel, opposite of a CTO) in 1/2 strength.

Here's a trick I use when placing lights. From the position of the light, I pop a quick frame. As often as not, it is shot from the hip, and I do not even bother to focus the camera. This quick test tells me (in this case) that the snooted light is aimed correctly. It also shows me the effect of the slight cooling gels, and that my exposure is pretty close.

If I have any major problems from the light in question, the test pop shows me before I walk away from the light.

I have said it before, and I will say it again: You do not get a belly like mine doing any unnecessary walking.

So, here's our final shot again. (Click on the pic for a bigger version in a new window.) You can see the subtle color separation between the rim lights and the background.

Every light in the photo is hard, and there is no ambient contributing to the photo. But Eke has a nice, 3-D sculpted look because the front light is replaced by rim/side lighting as you work your way around him.

The gelled, snooted light on the background finishes the photo by selectively lighting the background and warming up the wood.

NEXT: Nest Egg


Related posts:

:: L101: Hard Light ::
:: L101: Snoots and Gobos ::
:: How to Make Grid Spots ::
:: L101: Using Gels ::
:: On Assignment: Michael in Paris :: (Shot in same room.)


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