With Apologies to Zack Arias…

So, you remember when we talked last week about making the small, black portrait flat? This was the real reason I wanted to experiment with it.

The goal was to see if I could accomplish a particular look with just one light. And note I didn't say OneLight®, 'cause I'm assuming that is patented or something. Zack's black choppers would find me, rendition me to the ATL and throw me in a cell long enough to grow a ZZ Top beard.

But not having a 60" umbrella on me, I could hardly do the Zack thing anyway. Besides, I wanted to approach this headshot of Antonio Beverly as if he were a chunk of glassware…

First off, no, there's not any ambient contributing to the image. This is all one flash. We were trying to get a lot out of it—diffusing it, blocking it, reflecting it—so efficiency was not the main goal.

And since I wanted to shoot with some depth of field (call it f/8 at ISO 100, 'cause the P25 likes low ISOs) we blasted him with one Profoto head driven by an Acute2 1200ws pack.

Could you do this with a speedlight? Yep. But with a speedlight at full power, you'll get about four stops less light. So figure, say, shooting at f/4 @ISO 400. Totally doable.

Those of you who have read Light, Science and Magic will recognize this as dark field lighting. And yeah, it is usually used for shooting glassware on a dark background. All the more reason to mix it up some.

Here's the BTS pic, with the glow of the Profoto head visible behind the WalMart Bedding Dept. Queen-Sized Diffuser:

So, light leaves the flash and then gets turned into a ~36 sq. ft diffused source, which is right behind the subject. This provides wrap, like, everywhere. Soft rims and back/top light.

The background is that small flat I made just for this shoot. Small is important, as is opacity. You want room for that sheet to wrap, and you want the light blocked from the visible background.

Subject is in front of all of that. Heading up towards the camera we get to the key light, which is really two pieces of white styrofoam reflecting our OneLight® one light back to Antonio. Next time, I'd use something a little more specular/reflective, as we had to lighten his face some in post from the less efficient white styro.

Coming in closer to the camera still, you see a shoot-thru gobo/shade. This is muy importante as there is a boatload of light blasting right at the camera just out of frame. This shade keeps it all clean and flare-free. The camera and shade are locked down on sticks to keep everything aligned.

Lastly, we killed the ambient room lights for shooting—just flipped them on occasionally for focusing.

Could you do this more easily with three lights? Yep, sure could.

Am I ready to throw away most of my lights and grow the OneLight Goatee®? Nope, not yet.

But what the heck, just a simple proof of concept with just one flash. Felt kinda fun, too—a little Iron Chef-ish, if you will.

Oh, and your serve, Arias.


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