When you’re limited to shooting in a small room, controlling the light enough to avoid getting it in unwanted places can be a challenge – one that we’ll tackle today.
This shot had been rattling around in my head for a while so it was time to let it out in the wild to run free. Well, perhaps not all that wild, since we were still confined to the living room. Therein also lies the problem; since I didn’t have a nice background I needed things to go black, which can be tricky when you’re in a fairly small room and want to use multiple lights. Unfortunately I forgot to take a setup shot as usual, so I’ll just have to try to explain things as best I can.
For the main light I wanted it fairly soft while still being controlled enough to avoid spill light all over the place. In this case it really helps to have the right gear, an umbrella would be completely out of the question (unless you’re prepared to use a lot of gaffer tape and ingenuity). Out comes the trusted softbox and accompanying grid. I haven’t used the grid very often but for something like this it’s perfect – we get a nice big, soft light source while keeping it well under control with a smooth falloff. The light used was a YN560 with a touch of CTO gel.
Next up was the rim light, to really set the mood and give the whole thing more of a night time feel (with the help of some CTB gel). For this I used a LP160 with small softbox. What I was worried about was that the light would spill too much on the background and on the floor. To avoid that I gaffer taped a piece of cardboard to the side of the softbox facing tha background. Spill light on the floor wasn’t such a big deal but to limit it a bit I put a piece of gaffer tape on the lower edge of the softbox, thus creating a small recess. Had I built it up further with more tape I could have controlled the light even more. The reason for a softbox instead of a simple, gridded or snooted light, was that I wanted to make sure the light covered the whole subject while not being too hard.
To put the finishing touch on things I fired a tightly gridded LP160 with CTO gel at the book and her hands – it’s an important part of the composition so I wanted to highlight it in some way. If I could redo it I might have eased up a bit on the CTO gel, it’s a tad too orange and the cover of the book is already golden so I don’t think I really needed to warm the light that much in the first place. However, the biggest problem with the final result lies with the location. My vision for this was a wider composition but in order to keep the background dark I had to frame the whole body shot vertically (try as I might, some spill on the wall just out of frame to camera right was impossible to avoid). What I would have loved would have been to shoot this on location in a mosque or similar. That way I could have let some ambient bleed through to show off the background and given the shot a nice sense of scale.
When I’m not doing studio shots, the location keeps becoming more and more of a problem, at least if I want to take things to the next level. In the words of Joe McNally: if you want to take interesting photos, stand in front of interesting stuff. That’s probably where I can improve the most and I promise that I’ll procrastinate less this summer and actually make an effort to get out more – really, I will.
Happy shooting until next time.