Saturday, January 23, 2010
Cure Thrift: Part 2
[Oh no, they made a part 2?!]
More from Cure Thrift Shop. Last time, I wrote only about using hot lights...specifically, that one old tungsten light that we found at the thrift shop and stuck in a softbox (in case you missed it, here is the link to that post.) I really liked shooting with just one continuous light source that you could see the effect of before you took the shot. I am not used to that since when I need more light, I usually break out some flashes to provide the extra photons. And of course, light from a flash can only be seen for a split second, so you have to imagine what you want the picture to look like and set up the flashes accordingly.
[Bianca rocks the red]
So when the hot light was not enough, I worked some flash in there where I could. I did this sparingly since in most cases the hot light looked great as is and I didn't want to overcomplicate things. In my experience, it is far too easy to overcomplicate a lighting situation and spend too much time messing with technical stuff until it looks perfect: the result is some good lighting on a bored looking model because you just made her wait 20 minutes while you fiddled with the flashes! So let's not do that here!
[Mallory enjoying some tea, or was it coffee? Jeez, I can't remember...]
All of the shots above were done with similar lighting setups. The softbox with the tungsten light was on one side of the model and a strobe with a shoot through white umbrella was on the other side. I put some orange gels on the strobe so that the color temperature of the light from the strobe matched the light from the softbox. Color temperature is a measure of how "cold" or "warm" the light looks. Regular old tungsten light sources give off very warm (orange) light. Camera flashes are balanced to give off daylight balanced (white) light. When you take a picture with your camera's flash in a primarily tungsten environment (inside a bar for example) the people in the picture that are lit by the flash look "colder"(color temperature-wise) than the warm orange background lights. This gives a white or even blue look to the subjects. The way around this is to balance the flash with the tungsten light sources using gels.
For these shots in the black dress, I used a less-powerful orange gel on the flash to give some contrast in the colors. This way, the light from the flash will be only a little bit "cooler" that the light from the softbox. You can probably guess that the softbox is actually lighting her back, and the cooler flash is lighting her right side and front.
It's a really subtle effect...actually it's so subtle that I didn't even plan it that way! Gelling flashes is kind of a loose science. You just add some color, take a shot and look, and then adjust from there. The gels come in increments like 1/4, 1/2, full, double strength, etc. Full is supposed to be balanced to regular tungsten light and is usually pretty close. However, most continuous light sources have different color temperatures: a 100W bulb from brand X and a 60W bulb from brand Y will burn at different colors. I was trying to balance all the different ambient sources in the store with a 30 year old tungsten hot light, and gel some flashes to match all those! So you kind of just experiment and see what looks good!
[You finally did it...you balanced the overhead lights with the hot lights with the light here on the piano with your strobe! I am so surprised!
Next, I got a little crazier with the gels. Stay tuned for the last post from this shoot...in the meantime, go check out CURE Thrift Shop and support a great cause!