Back in December my brother asked me if I would be interested in going to Comic Con in Indianapolis, IN, and I immediately said absolutely! In his mind, he was excited to see what comic books he could find or the hard to find vinyl POP figure or possibly a GI Joe collectible, but in my mind I knew I was going there to photograph people in their costumes.
These couldn’t be just any images though… I mean come on, the lighting at the event is going to be gross, the crowds will be huge, I’ll have to fight for space… This seems like 360 degrees of complexity. So, I start thinking to myself “how can I make the subjects stand out from the crowd?”, I got it! I’ll do one speedlight in my 26″ Westcott Rapid Box attached to my mono pod, I’ll expose for the environment to be dark and then have the light just kiss the top half of the subject. There was one issue though, I needed someone to hold the light. I was in luck! My younger brother who lives in the area was also attending Comic Con and he is a photographer too. I reached out to him, told him what I was thinking, and he was in.
I had so much fun doing these images. Everyone person I asked to have their picture taken was an absolute yes every time and was gracious and honored to be asked. I highly recommend any photographer who is wanting to learn more about lighting to try to tackle this exercise of one light portraits on the go. How often do you get the opportunity to photograph Deadpool, Harley Quinn, Batman, The Riddler etc… It was worth the price of admission for me.
All images were edited in Lightroom CC. I wanted to keep it as simple as possible… I created a preset in LR and then applied to all. I went through each image and adjusted the crop and the radial gradient.
Overall the project was as success and the images below prove it. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask. Below are details on gear and my favorite collection of the portraits that were captured.
THE LIGHTING GEAR
Let’s go over the gear. I wanted something light and mobile and the first items that came to mind was a speedlight. I also knew I wanted a lighting modifier that would give me a nice soft light but was small enough to carry around. I came up with using my 26″ Octa Westcott Rapid Box with a Canon 600EX RT attached to my Oben monopod, the speedlight was triggered using the Canon ST-E3-RT transmitter. This setup allowed me to treat the light as if it was on a boom and I was the c-stand.
THE GLASS AND THE BODY
I wanted a shallow depth of field for these portraits so the subjects could standout and be as sharp as possible, and what lens to execute this with? The new SIGMA 85mm f/1.4 ART lens. I’ve had this lens for a few months now, and can personally tell you it’s worth the investment. Camera body is my trusty Canon 5D Mark III with the battery grip holstered with the Rapid Strap sport edition
All of the images taken had the settings of 100 ISO, F/1.4, and the shutter ranged between 1/320 – 1/1000. Everything depended on the lighting, and it seemed easiest to control the exposure with just the shutter speed.
About the Author
Jon Erlien is a photographer, retoucher and designer based in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. If you’d like to see more of his work, check out his website, like his Facebook page and follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and Behance. This article was also published here and shared with permission.