There were two things I wanted to try with when I took the shots we’ll look at today, both of them worked out ok but they can also be improved, as always.
As usual, you’ll be looking at my wife’s pretty face. I know, I really need to shoot some other people as well but you have to agree that she’s doing a pretty good job as my model. Anyways, one of the things I wanted to try was the placement of the key light, which is a LP160 in softbox. In these shots it’s boomed above the subject and facing the floor at an almost flat angle. The subject sits at the far edge of the softbox so that basically all the light is in front of her. It looked ok but to really make this light work I would have needed a much bigger light source for softer light. My plan was to only use one light but the shadows were simply a bit too hard for my liking, so I added a second light, a YN560 bounced on a white board on the floor in front of the subject. This light filled in the shadows and got me closer to the soft look I wanted. I think I could also have tried moving the light a tiny bit forward to get more falloff towards the edge of the subject – basically the opposite of a rim light, so the subject is separated from the background by making the background brighter instead, which brings us to the third light.
The second thing I wanted to practice was the background light. Last time I used a background light was for my own profile picture but that time it was rather subtle. This time I wanted to really make sure the background was lit separately to provide a nice framing for the subject. To do that I used a gridded LP160, aimed at a grey bed sheet. One thing I’ve come to learn is that grey seems to work better than black when you want to light the background like this, black just swallows the light in a different way.
I think the background light works quite well here, so I’m feeling a bit more comfortable with it. The most difficult thing about it was definitely to line up the subject so she would be in the middle of the light, I get several off center ones and that just doesn’t look good. Next time I should put a piece of tape on the background where the centre of the light will be, that should help with the framing. Another thing to try is to angle the light a bit. Here you can see that the spot of light is rather round, which I guess works ok, but by putting the light a bit lower and aiming it up, I should get a more oval shape that follows the shape of the subject better.
Some of these things occurred to me while shooting, some (most) didn’t. However, I didn’t want to spend too much time fiddling around since there was a grumpy baby wanting attention and climbing on my model. There’s one more thing I would like to touch on before I let you go though. As you can see, the editing is different in the first and second shot here. The edit in the second shot was actually my first pick but I played around a bit more and I have to say that I like the more natural look of the first shot a lot better now. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I’ve been gravitating more towards natural looking edits, at least for these type of portraits. I think that’s the direction I want to take, not because it means less work in post (no really, that’s almost entirely true), but because it’s a style that suits me. Some shots will certainly have a less natural look but for the majority of my work I think you’ll see an editing style similar to this.
Well, it’s time for me to pretend to work over here, until next time.