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Lazy Sunday Lighting

Three Photos And Lighting Diagram

The Technical: I don’t always have the luxury of working in a studio, so I look for light first, then make a location work through proper lighting and lens selection. For these two images of Shelby, I simply had her stand near the opening of the patio door. Both images were lit with a Hensel Integra 500 Pro Plus monolight fitted with a Chimera Super Pro Plus medium soft strip box with a Lighttools 40-degree grid on the front. I powered the flash down to ensure I’d be able to use a low aperture to help blur the background. The main difference between the two images is that I positioned Shelby inside the doorway on the second image and outside the doorway in the first image.

Shelby Starr photograph, digital photography

Shelby from Dallas poses outside patio doorway.

Photographer’s Toolbox

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon 85mm F/1.2L USM
Shutter Speed: 1/25 shutter speed for patio images
Shutter Speed: 1/50th for second image
Aperture: F/4 for first image
Aperture: F/5.6 for second image
Aperture: F/5.6 for third image
ISO: 100
White Balance: 6000K

I then found the right angle to create impact with the elements in the scene. Because the brick wall is masculine, I moved the light back to give me less output. This resulted in an even lower aperture that would help the background blur even more. I also positioned the camera at an angle to the wall, creating leading lines toward the model’s face. Nik Software’s Bleach Bypass filter was used in postproduction to give both images greater impact.

The Story Behind the Image: Often we have days where the weather is gloomy, and quite frankly, we’re just in a lazy Sunday mood. Not to mention, photographers are artists in their own fashion, and sometimes, like all artists, the creativity in our brains just isn’t flowing and in this image of Shelby, a model from Dallas, it literally was a lazy Sunday in mid-December. My creativity was just not there at first as we had chosen to shoot in a confined part of the house with a simple, black fabric background. Eventually it would come, the idea that is, as I was not too thrilled shooting with just a plain background.

Shelby Starr digital photograph

Shelby and I first started shooting against a black, fabric background before moving to the doorway.

When it’s gloomy gray outside, other tones in photography, like black or white, just don’t motivate me. It was bad enough that my model, Shelby from Dallas, took a bit to convince me to get off the couch and grab some images before her long drive back home. We had shot the day before, so we were just killing time on Sunday talking shop, but eventually her enthusiasm motivated me to grab my camera and fire up the lights.

I already had two Chimera Super Pro Plus, medium soft strip boxes fitted to a Hensel Integra Pro 500 monolights that were in a makeshift studio area of the house, near the sliding glass patio doors. So we first started shooting with a black fabric background that was attached to two, portable background stands. In the beginning I just wasn’t feeling it, so as I turned and looked, I said, “Why not?” I was referring to the fact that I saw some daylight coming in from the back patio door, and besides, the background was no longer just one plain solid color.

Digital photograph of model Shelby

Sometimes even fake plants make great props as in this photo of Dallas model Shelby standing in the doorway.

I’m always looking for light and one of my favorite things is to mix artificial light with natural light. What caught my eye, was how the light, what little was there, was coming through the patio door glass. Light from behind is always great in images, especially when it’s free!

In the first shot, I had Shelby stand in front of the doorway, next to an artificial plant, thus allowing me to include some of the sky in the background. The plant also added a “prop” into the image so it would appear that she was outside. We took a few shots then I asked her to change her outfit. While she was changing, I began to look around. I knew I wanted to do something in that doorway, or even perhaps outside, though the day was gloomy gray, so the natural light was not too flattering.

The brick exterior wall of the house caught my attention. My thinking was simple, Shelby was wearing a green outfit, a cool color, and the bricks were red, a warm color. It’s always great when the background can contrast to an opposite color the subject is wearing. However, one problem, I was photographing a female and the background was these reddish bricks. Bricks are masculine, so I didn’t want them in focus, at the same time, the mortar grooves provided for some interesting lines, so my thought process was to use a medium-telephoto prime lens, my Canon 85mm F/1.2, at a low aperture setting for that shallow depth-of-field effect that blurs the background in a pleasing, painterly manner. The mortar grooves would provide for “leading lines,” a photojournalism technique to draw the viewer into the image.

Photography lighting diagram of digital photograph

Here is the lighting diagram for the first photo in this photoblog entry of model Shelby from Dallas.

This time I had Shelby stand outside the patio doorway while I stood inside and positioned my camera angle so the walls and the brick mortar lines would form a diagonal slant toward her face. While I didn’t tell Shelby I was shooting a headshot, I decided to go in that direction as she had that look in her eyes that provided for the feeling in the image that someone was there with her. In my opinion, it was all about the face, that glow she was projecting combined with a gentle, but piercing look from her eyes. It was in that instant that we both forgot about our lazy Sunday attitudes and the image was captured. She was pleased and so was I.

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Welcome to LensDiaries.com (Lens Diaries™), a hybrid photography blog with social flair. The photoblog provides photo tips, photo tutorials and photo diaries by professional photographer, author, writer, speaker and social media consultant, Rolando Gomez.

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