Thursday, June 30, 2011

Come Over to the Dark Side...

final image, with three lights, a touch of detailing in Adobe Lightroom

I have to tip my hat to David Hobby straight off. For any of the photographers out there reading this, if you don't read David Hobby's Strobist Blog, you need to. Even if you only shoot with available light...READ this guy's blog.

I had a chance to see the FlashBus extravaganza when it came through Buffalo back in May. During David's talk, he spent a good chunk of time explaining how he created the layers of light he uses in his images. The key thing he said, which blew my mind, was that light is additive. Meaning: you start from the darkest shadows that you need to create depth and form and line, and slowly bring light into play, bit by bit, filling in with subtle washes of light or strong highlights, whatever... but only after you've established your blackest blacks. And the way you do that is by controlling your ambient light in the space with your aperture.

In the first image (1), this illustrates my ambient exposure, no strobes going off. Dark eh?
Image 2 has my main light (medium softbox) sweeping in from the left side. Image #3 has some fill light provided by a Nikon sb-700 speedlight just off to camera left, triggered via slave. In the fourth image there is a snooted and gridded strobe pointing down from camera right, straight onto the slip draped over the suitcase.

I think the fourth image is a little too hot and is starting to blow out some of the texture in the silk slip. I am also not seeing much detail in the pink cowboy boots.

This is what the scene looked like with no strobes, just ambient light, and all my settings on AUTO. No depth, no drama, just kinda blah. Bear in mind, there is NO strobe flash happening here... just a slow shutter speed in near-total darkness. We're talking f/10 at over half a second exposure, ISO 200.

With the final image, I can see the detailing in the boots, the shimmering of the fabric of the silk dress and slip, but I can also see the texture of the satin lining of the suitcase. This makes the whole image tie together for me.

The sad part for me is that once we had figured this piece out, we realized that we had other more pressing work that needed to be photographed, so we had to tear everything down and move onto work that pays the bills. Hopefully, after this holiday weekend, we'll be able to get back into this experimentation with light, texture and form!

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