After the less than satisfactory shoot in the previous post, today we’ll look at something that I’m more happy with. I’ve wanted to try this setup for a while and I also have some more ideas for how to use it to get quite different looks.
Even though I’m using four flashes, the setup is actually pretty simple. The only real problem was that I only have two light stands so I also used a couple of small tables. As is custom, I forgot to take a setup shot so you’ll just have to use your imagination as I explain it to you. There are two bare YN560s, one from each side, standing on small tables, those are the rim lights. The next one was a bit tricky, a LP160 with softbox from above and behind. Since I still don’t have a boom (I really want a boom so feel free to donate one, you know you want to) I leaned a light stand over a chair (as you can tell I have lot of custom made gear) to get the light where I wanted it. A bit precarious but after employing my engineering skills I managed to secure everything to a satisfactory degree – provided that nothing heavier than a fly touched the construction. The final light is a LP160 in umbrella behind the camera, acting as fill. The fill is also what gives the background (a grey bed sheet) some light.
The idea behind using so many lights is to really define the shape of the subject while still keeping things nice and bright. That being said, some parts may be a bit too bright. I’m definitely happy with this portrait but, as usual, the little one didn’t give me many shots to experiment with. As you can see in the second shot, she started being rather unhappy about being moved back to the same spot every time she ran off to play. In the first shot she’s holding a phone, which is usually a good distraction for a while.
Things to improve: first of all the hair light could definitely be taken down a bit, it’s too bright and almost becomes a distraction instead of a help to define the subject – taking it down a notch would give a softer look better suited for the subject. Secondly I would have liked to try some different ratios for the fill light. By stopping down the fill light a bit I could have given the shadows a bit more room to give shape and texture. It’s not a big issue here since the soft bright look quite suits the little one but I have some variations of this setup I want to try. In particular I would like to try this with harder lights to really bring out all the imperfections in the subject. It won’t be very flattering but I think it could be cool – though I probably shouldn’t say all this if my next
victim model happen to read this. I guess I might end up having to use myself for that…
The second shot here also gives you an idea of how difficult it can be to shoot small things that won’t stand still. As you can see, the light that’s supposed to be coming from camera left pretty much missed it mark in this shot. However, I think I like the way the light from camera right is coming in a bit more from behind. Next time I try this setup I’ll probably move the side lights a bit back or gobo them so the light mostly stays away from the front of the face.
Another thing I learned from this photo shoot was that I need to get a cheap grey bed sheet to use as a background. I raided this one from the bed, which meant extra work to put everything back in order afterwards. The grey works very nicely when you want a more neutral background than black or white.
All in all I’m quite happy with these shots and that the setup worked so well. Expect to see more sometime in the future.
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