My model looked at me like I was crazy when we drove to a grimy alleyway behind an Italian grocer because I wanted to shoot 'a pretty summertime editorial look'. While I can hardly blame her, I live and work in Seattle, which can certainly live up to its overcast and rainy stereotype. So, I sometimes find myself in a certain mania to use the sun while it's out.
In this article, I'll walk through a quick and simple look where minimal lighting and a bit of color were used to turn our spot in the grocer's alley into a fashionable set - no studio required. In particular, we will look at how the shot was built up to allow creative control in a mixed-lighting situation, using a combination of external flash and available light.
There were a few challenges for this shoot. The location was certainly not 'naturally beautiful'. I was shooting in a sedan, which is a fairly constrained space. It was late afternoon. As daylight time was short and I didn't have an assistant with me, the lighting equipment needed to be simple and easy to set up.
|As locations go, this is about as un-glamorous as they get.|
Why this particular location, sandwiched between a dumpster and a crooked cyclone fence? To build up this look, I wanted to start with 'open shade' - a location that was open to the sky but not in direct sunlight. This gives the background a soft, even light. This was important because I was using external flashes as the main light source; having even light in the background meant that I could set my exposure without worrying about blowing out parts of the background scene.
I was also planning on shooting with a wide aperture to allow the background to blur nicely. The fence, when shot out-of-focus, would provide a fairly interesting visual texture, and the rest of the alley wasn't even going to be in the shot. Most importantly, however, this alley is not a high-traffic location, so I would be able to set up the car and lighting without disturbing anybody or getting passers-by in the photos.
|This is a test shot showing the look using only available light with no |
f2.5, 1/80 @ ISO 200.
In the image above note the difference in exposure between the model's arm, which was near the window, and her face, which was in the full shadow of the car. This would be difficult to adjust for without external lighting. Ideally, aside from edge lighting, the model's face would be as bright or brighter than the parts of her body that are in the background. If I hadn't augmented the available light with an artificial light source, the images would be very soft and flat, as in this example. Recall that I was shooting inside a sedan that itself was in open shade. This is an environment with very diffuse, low-contrast light. By the same token, however, this provided an excellent palette for constructing my own lighting setup.
To maximize the effect of the available light and throw the background out of focus, I was shooting with a very wide aperture, f2.5. This can be dangerous territory when photographing people. At f2.5, depth-of-field gets very shallow, particularly for subjects that are close to the camera. Slight movements by the model or the photographer can be enough to throw off critical focus. However, as this was a candid and fairly casual look - one that probably wouldn't be printed at 24 plus inches and hung in a gallery - coming away with something less than an absolutely tack-sharp image was not going to be a deal-breaker.
My lighting kit for this shoot was a pair of Metz Mecablitz 60 CT-4 flashes that I had borrowed from an assistant. This is a 2000's era flash system which has some very handy features for situations like these.
Most significantly for this shoot, the units can be hooked up to regular sync cables without requiring expensive adapters. This meant that I could fire the flashes using standard radio triggers - the kind that I already had lying around the studio. This gave me a tremendous amount of freedom in placing the flash heads. I could set one unit behind the model to provide backlight and one unit behind myself, facing the model as a key (main) light.
This is an arrangement that could be very difficult to trigger using a line-of-sight infrared system such as those built into dedicated speedlights. Additionally, the Metz flash units provide an audible recycle indicator - they 'beep' when they're ready to fire again. This was a useful feature since I was placing the flashes behind my back and behind car doors, where it would be difficult to see visual LED recycle indicators on the flashes themselves.
A car can be used as a quick and easy set, but photographing a person inside a car does present some difficulties. There are a limited number of places where the photographer can go. Using a large car or one with very adjustable seats can give you more possibilities for situating yourself. There are likewise a limited number of locations where lighting can be placed - nominally, pointing in through the car's exterior windows. To get around this, lights could be boomed in through an open window or held by an assistant if necessary.
For this shoot, I wanted the background light to be directly behind the model, pointing towards the camera. I put the light on a stand aimed through the passenger-side window, behind the model and about two feet away from the car. This created a strongly backlit image, picking up color in the hair and putting lighting artifacts (glare) in the frame.
In order to avoid the temptation to zoom out and capture more of the model in my frame, I used a 50mm prime lens for the shoot (65mm equivalent focal-length after crop factor on my APS-H sensor). This was wide enough to get an acceptable amount of the environment and create some separation between the subject and the background, but not wide enough to cause unflattering wide-angle distortion of the model's features, which would have been a risk if I was using a zoom lens and zoomed out too far.
The background light alone did not help to open detail in the model's features, so I added a second flash as a key light to illuminate the model. This flash was about 3 feet behind my shoulder, firing through the open driver's side door of the car. However, the raw flash looked too flat and harsh for my intended treatment. Further, I originally set the flash to be about a stop brighter than the ambient light. This gave the image an obvious 'artificially lit' look.
To remedy this, I lowered the flash's power relative to the ambient light and covered the raw flash bulb with the unit's built-in diffuser. I also moved the flash closer to the model. This slightly increased the size of the flash relative to the subject, which further softened the quality of the light. This diffused light was gentle and closer in intensity to the ambient light, which made the lighting look more believable and natural.
Note that I introduced the background light before adding the key light. The background light has a less significant overall effect on the image; I often find it easier to visualize the contribution of lights going from darkest to brightest. The dim lights take back stage after the big lights are added; if I had started with the key light in place, I might have mistakenly tried to adjust this image by lowering the background light.
The main light has been corrected.
than the ambient light. At this ratio, the key light is providing a strong
fill without overpowering the natural light.
I had fairly limited options as to where the key light could be placed. If the key light were aimed through the windshield or rear window of the car, the model would have had strongly defined shadows on her features. This would not be appropriate for the mood I wanted to achieve. Placing the light so it was facing the model directly provided even illumination with few shadows. This suited the intended mood of the shoot.
It is worth noting that I metered and adjusted the lights manually, rather than relying on TTL (through-the-lens) metering and exposure compensation. This allowed me very precise and deliberate control over the relative power of the key and background lights, even though the background light was sometimes firing directly into my lens.
As I wanted the lighting in the image to look natural, I also needed to make sure that the background light (our proxy 'sun') was coming from a plausible angle. This meant raising the light to a location where it didn't seem to be shining through an unlikely gap in the fence, which was otherwise backed by solid vegetation.
|The final look, with post-processing applied. The lens flare artifacts were deliberately left in the image. f2.5, 1/60 @ ISO 200|
Finally, I added some color in post-processing to give the image a warm, pink sunset tone. This was done using a split color filter in Nik Color Efx Pro 3.0. Nik's software allows filter effects to be adjusted in selected areas of an image, such as the skin, with far fewer clicks than traditional masking. In this case, I reduced the effect of the filter on the skin in order to keep the model from getting an atomic suntan.
Beginning to end, this look took about 15 minutes to set up and shoot. Keeping the lighting simple, thinking about the environmental lighting and paying attention to lighting ratios between the flashes and ambient light allowed me to establish a consistent and predictable look very quickly. Best of all, this isn't the type of lighting set that sometimes shows up in photo magazines, where a small truck full of lighting gear and grip equipment is required to get the look. This can easily be done with a pair of external flashes and your neighborhood specialty grocer's alley.
Thomas Park is a fashion / fine art photographer and educator based in Seattle, Washington. To find out more about his work and workshops, please visit http://www.thomasparkphoto.com
Model: Ira Z
All images © 2011, Thomas Park
Sep 26, 2014
Aug 20, 2014
Jun 12, 2014
May 7, 2014
|Autumn by valenttin|
from Harvest Festivals
|Cardinal, Male by paul katinas|
from A Big Year - birds
|.. by Amar Vignesh|
from Unintentional Blur
|Sir Mick Jagger by HetFotoAtelier|
from - Concerts : When The Lights Come On -
If you're set on investing in a seriously capable compact, no doubt these two cameras will be on your list. Here's how they square up.
Adobe's experimental Project 'Deep Fill' is an incredibly powerful and impressive, AI-powered version of Content Aware Fill. Watch the demo to see this amazing tool in action.
LEE has released a new series of Reverse ND filters that are most opaque in the middle and become progressively clearer towards the top. This makes them ideal for capturing scenes where the sun is close to the horizon.
A former New York Times photographer is suing both the newspaper and its photography director Michele McNally for over $500,000 for age discrimination and unfair classification as a freelancer for nearly a decade.
"CPS Platinum members will now enjoy next-day service, with equipment serviced and shipped the business day after an estimate is approved. For repairs that will take longer, Canon will offer next-day loaner equipment."
Irix is introducing a new filter system called the Irix Edge 100. The ultra-light, ultra-thin system is build specifically for wide angle lenses like Irix's own 15mm F2.4.
After conducting a series of safety tests, the FAA is recommending that all airlines ban cameras and other electronics with Lithium Ion batteries from checked baggage. The agency believe the risk of a catastrophic fire and explosion is too great.
The Pixentu jackets keep you and your gear warm and dry, offering useful features like lens and tripod pockets, in addition to some quirky ones like an extended hood to protect your camera from the rain.
Adobe gave the audience at MAX a sneak peek at some exciting new technology its developing. It's called Adobe Cloak: a highly capable Content Aware Fill-like feature for video editors.
Earlier today, Flickr moved its photo book printing service over to a third party services, and stopped offering any wall art options entirely.
The patent details a flipping rear LCD screen so large, Canon has had to hide the rear dial and several buttons underneath.
We've added a selection of extra images to our Nikon D850 gallery. As part of the process of rounding off the review we made sure a number of us had shot the camera in a variety of situations, we've added those shots to the gallery to give a broad cross section of how the camera performs.
Wiral LITE is an affordable, easy-to-use cable cam system that can do things a portable slider simply can't do, and go places no slider would dare go.
Not happy with the recent demise of Lightroom as a stand-alone, subscription free service? Macphun's got your back... or they will in 2018.
Once connected to a PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone, Pholio automatically searches through the device storage and backs up all images and videos—complete with auto-tagging and intelligent search capabilities.
The 360 Round uses eight horizontally positioned camera pairs and one upward-pointing single lens to capture and livestream panoramic 4K 3D content.
Introduced just three years ago, the Samsung NX1 was both a technological tour-de-force and a great camera to use, earning one of the highest scores we've ever awarded and winning our 2015 Innovation Award. But its short-lived run in the photo world leaves us wondering what could have been.
The Fujifilm X-E3 is styled like a classic rangefinder, but features a built-in touchscreen, AF joystick, and electronic viewfinder – truly an old school meets new type of camera. Lay some eyes on our sample gallery to see how it performs in the real world.
Like it or not, Adobe is embracing a cloud-centric, AI-rich future with the introduction of Lightroom CC. And that's a great thing, though you may not see it now, argues Rishi Sanyal.
The announcement of a more cloud-integrated Lightroom product sees the death of the company's standalone version. This need to make payments in perpetuity (whether you choose Lightroom Classic or CC), chips away at the idea that your Lightroom library is a long-term solution, argues Richard Butler.
The XPro-C 2.4GHz wireless flash trigger that Godox released for Canon users last month now has a Nikon equivalent—the aptly named XPro-N. Sony, Fujifilm and MFT versions are in the works.
In the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, camera and lens maker Sigma is extending its standard product warranty to cover damage caused by these three natural disasters.
The F4 Plus can can capture 360° stills, videos and broadcast livestream footage at 8K resolution... that's 7680 x 3840 pixels!
Lightroom is hogging the spotlight at Adobe MAX, but Photoshop CC got some substantial improvements as well. Find out what's new in the latest version of Photoshop CC.
The aptly-named 'Nude' app automatically detects NSFW images on your iPhone, moves them to a protected vault and deletes the original files in the camera roll and on iCloud.
The Zeiss Milvus family of manual-focus full-frame lenses just gained a new member. Meet the Zeiss Milvus 24mm F1.4: a fast, rugged new lens designed primarily for landscape and architecture photography.
Lightroom has built a brand new Lightroom CC from the ground up to be faster, easier to use, and cloud-based. The application formerly known as Lightroom CC will continue to exist, and will go by "Lightroom Classic CC."
Google Research did a deep dive on the Pixel 2 smartphone's background-blurring portrait mode that uses neural networking and dual-pixel technology instead of a dual-camera setup.
With the arrival of the PowerShot G1 X III, there are now seven Canon cameras built around the 24MP Dual Pixel sensor and Digic 7 processor. We take a look at the differences and what might prompt you to choose one over the others.
Meet the HP ZBook x2. The so-called 'world's most powerful and first detachable PC workstation,' it was built with creative professionals in mind, and is being debuted at Adobe MAX.