Lighting is often a serious point of conversation; soft, hard, broad, short, high and low key etc… it can really go on extensively, so when I saw this photograph by Alexandre Watanabe I just had to get in touch to see how he did it! I mean, its just an egg, right? Yet Alexandre lit it in two very opposing ways, and did each one perfectly. Understanding both lighting setups, one of which the elusive dark field setup will probably add Lighting-skills+12 to my score.
As someone who shoots on location a lot I’m often given a choice on what I like to call “popping” or “blending” a subject into a scene, in short this really as as simple as using your main light source to either complement the direction of a natural / embedded light source in a scene (a candle, window, lights etc) or contrasting it completely so that the subject “pops” out and suspends the belief that they are illuminated within the scene naturally.
Here’s what I mean:
Mounting lights onto drones seems to be getting popular, all of a sudden, but I suppose it was inevitable. Today, Fiilex announce their new AL250 light, specifically designed for mounting onto drones, allowing you to put continuous light where may have previously been impossible.
Having a continuous light attached to a drone while filming video also allows you to move your light to follow the action.
I took this photo as part of a lighting class in Costa Rica. The theme was people who represent the spirit of the farm where the class was held. It was a colonial building hidden in the country side of Costa Rica. While we were fortunate to have a great model, I used a few simple tricks to make the scene work.
Sometimes, getting a sweet lighting setup is a matter of pure luck and this is the case with this setup. I’ll collect setups like tools, so this one is just another tool in my toolbox now. Anyways, back to the story.
Here is my issue, taking a portrait whist using a single key light and reflector and fighting with the reflector in one hand and the camera in the other cant be something unique to me. You know what I am talking about, super quick and clean ‘clamshell’ lighting with the key just above the models eyeline and the reflector just below the chin bouncing some well needed light back up to fill in the shadows. This means micromanaging the reflector with your left hand (assuming you are a righty) while trying to bounce just the right amount of light back into the shot. There is really no way out of this not-enough-hands-mess: you’re scooping, flapping, bouncing and bending the damn thing around the key-light stand with one hand desperately trying to look professional. The result? I wish I could say that I mastered it but when I load the images up on the laptop I find that half the damn shots have an annoying reflector part peeking in the bottom of the frame! Not good.
A while back I found myself in a pinch. The setup included a model, and two hair lights positioned behind her and a reflector bouncing light back into the shot. I placed the reflector on a stand and I was literally holding the camera up in front of it so that the viewfinder was pressed against it and taking pictures using the blessings of autofocus alone because I couldn’t look through the lens.
I then had an epiphany. I cut a very rudimentary hole in the middle of my reflector so I could see what was actually going on, standing behind the reflector and having only my lens poke through.
I did change the lights a bit and replaced the two hair lights with a big softbox behind the model and having the reflector double duty as both the key-light and the fill-light. In actuality this super simple setup produces such a flattering light that its got to be one of the cheapest ring flashes you’ll ever find. (diagrams courtesy of set.a.light)
When I started to use artificial lighting, The Inverse Square Law was my nemesis. Not only it is not intuitive, but it is also not linear, and visualizing how a strobe distance from a subject will impact the photo is not trivial to say the least.
Photographer Derrick Bias shared a few priceless photos that show the exact impact that moving a strobe away fro ma subject has.
One trivial effect, of course it the fact that less light hits the model, but light fall off, background to model illumination ratio and overall contrast also play a part in this game. While I encourage everyone to take the time to learn The Inverse Square Law, and its impact on your photos these photos will provide an instant reference point if you are just starting out.
A lot of the time when we look at a well executed image we think about how it was lit. And a lot of times, the strobes and softboxes and other light modifiers photographers use have a huge impact on the final photo.
But sometimes having a good natural light source and a good understanding of light is all you need.
I saw this photograph by photographer Maxim Guselnikov and was surprised to learn it was all natural light.
Maxim told DIYP how the photo was made: