Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lighting: not just for people anymore!



I try to travel light when I shoot outside. I guess the absolute bare minimum is my camera and a lens…but I pretty much always bring along a small light stand and at least a flash. All this stuff fits in one bag and is pretty light, which helps when you’re walking all over the place looking for cool locations. Well, to be completely truthful, I didn’t have to look for the location for the shot above because it was suggested by the model! It’s somewhere that she passes by when she runs in Central Park, and she always thought it would make a good place to shoot. Which is a good habit to get into…always keeping your eyes peeled for places that would look cool through the lens.

Anyway, we shot this under one of those stone overpasses in Central Park in the Upper West Side. There was sunlight coming in through one of the open sides of the overpass, and this is what is lighting Justine. The light has a nice soft but directional quality to it because it’s all being corralled and shaped by the tunnel walls. Without adding any light to the picture she would look exactly the same because she is lit entirely by the natural sunlight, but the background would just be a big black void because there is no light falling that deep into the back wall of the tunnel. So I added a single flash on a light stand and aimed it at the cool stone wall behind her to expose it and make it a part of the image. None of this extra light is falling on Justine because the flash is behind her and out of the frame to the right. I think that extra lighting on the stone wall is what makes the image go from a random portrait to something unusual and interesting, which was the whole point!

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