I’m sorry to say that, yet again, you’re forced to look at my exceptionally handsome face as the lead for this post. Actually I’m kind of pleased with this portrait – and that’s coming from someone who has always despised being in front of the camera – maybe the problem was that, all that time, I really should have been behind the camera as well. Either that or it’s the hat…definitely could be the hat. Anyways, you might have noticed that this portrait is different from the rest of this particular model, and that’s what we’re here to talk about today.
I’ve done the dark and moody portraits before (and certainly will again, possibly soon) but for this shoot I wanted to go high key, with a bright, blown out background. Lets cover the technical aspects first. First order of business was to set up the background light. For this I used an lp160 on full power. After a couple of test shots I noticed that I wasn’t lighting the whole background (as I’ve mentioned: the room isn’t very big. I actually have a plan to make handling the background easier though, hopefully to be revealed in a post in the near future), I needed to spread the light more. Moving it farther away wouldn’t work since that would make it end up in front of me, ruining the foreground light. I angled it as best I could and also put on the wide angle diffuser that’s included with the lp160. I was now lighting almost the whole background and what I missed, I later corrected with some tweaks in post. With the background light out of the way, I then place another lp160 behind and above to the left. I wanted a rim light to create some interest and highlights. The final light was a SB-400 in shoot through umbrella to camera right, since I didn’t want to obscure my face in shadows (for once).
Originally my intention was to turn it into black and white but after playing around a bit in lightroom I came to like the result seen here instead. It’s the cream tone preset with some tweaks and I think the hint of colour adds a lot – it almost has a bit of a 30’s-40’s feel…but then again, it could just be the hat. I definitely think this is a style I’ll have some more fun with in the future, hopefully with my wife as the model instead, possibly with the hat.
This shot of my adorable daughter (sadly without the hat) was a prelude to the more stylized shots of myself. Here I just wanted something bright and cheerful. It was a quick setup – unless you count the part of getting my daughter to cooperate – one lp160 to each side, doesn’t matter that much exactly where you put the lights when using them as rim like this, just put a wide spread on them, and an SB-400 in umbrella high, almost on axis (would love a boom so I can get light directly from above as well). The result is indeed bright and my daughter is bringing plenty of cheerful. Unfortunately the background is bordering on criminally boring (and ugly), I’ll try to work more on that next time. Other than that I quite like it; the rim lights provides some nice shape to that round face.
We have time for one more shot, this time of some mini cupcakes (don’t you just love edible flowers?). The setup here is pretty much identical to the one in my self portraits above, with the difference that I had no trouble lighting the background this time around. Not much to say about it really, I think the high key style works pretty well. One thing worth noting is that the cup is standing on a piece of paper that continues over the edge of the table, giving us a much smoother transition than a sharp table edge would have provided. I know, a setup shot would make it a lot easier for you guys to understand what’s going on, I’ll definitely try to get better at that. I had a thought after taking this picture: it could be a nice touch to add a shadow on the background, either something simulating the crossbars of a window or possibly fire the flash through a plant. Could be an interesting dynamic but I would put more of the background in frame if I did so. Something to try next time.
That’s all for today, a first look at a brighter style. Just don’t expect everything I do to be in this style from now on, I still very much enjoy playing with shadows so next time might be considerably darker…we’ll see about the hat.