Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Studio Shooting 101

Everyone has their own ways of doing things. Who's to say who's right and who's wrong? Not me. I try to be non-judgemental, except when people are just plain wrong. I don't see that as being judgemental. I see it as me being somewhat knowledgeable and being willing to share some of that knowledge, not that I know all that much.

If I point out to some shooter something he or she is doing that's just plain wrong, I'm just being helpful, right? After all, if I don't point out what they're doing that's wrong, they'll probably keep on doing it... doing it wrong, that is. I don't think that's me being a smartass. It's me being a nice, helpful guy, no?

In this blog, I've often shared the way I do things. I'm not saying everything I do is the right way to do it. And even if it qualifies as a right way, there might be a better way. I'm always open to hearing about better ways of doing things. I'm also open to hearing about different ways of doing things. Sometimes different isn't better but, also sometimes, different spawns better if you get my drift.

Now that I've completed writing today's flatulent prologue, I'll get to what I thought I'd share. (P.S. I'm not saying what I'm about to say qualifies as an absolute right way of doing something. And maybe it's not such a better way for many who visit this blog. I definitely don't think it's a wrong way. But for those of you who are on the look-out for different ways of doing things, and you haven't thought about doing what I'm about to share, maybe it will help you next time you're shooting. Sorry. More flatulence.)

Shooting glamourous shots of pretty girls is often accomplished with highlights. When I'm shooting, I almost always have more lights working from behind the model than in front of her. I'm, for the most part, a one-light guy in terms of what's coming from in front of the model, i.e., for a mainlight or keylight or whatever you want to call it. I almost never use a fill light. I might use a reflector for a bit of fill but the reflector isn't a light. It's a tool that uses the light coming from some other source to provide fill. You'll rarely walk onto one of my sets and see, for instance, two softboxes working in front of the model at 45° from each side of the model. Blah! Flat and boring! I hate flat and boring lighting. It's so... flat... and boring. That's not to say I don't sometimes shoot flat and boring lighting. I do, ocassionally, shoot that way. But, usually, when I do, it's the result of some photo-illiterate client who says to me, "I want her really lit up. I want to see everything," or something to that effect. Oh well. They're writing the check so what am I going to do? Shoot the girl in a flat and boring way, that's what I'm going to do. (Does that make me a whore? Hmmmm...)

By this time, assuming you're still reading, you might be wondering what the deal is with the images I've posted (above) along with my blather about right ways and wrong ways and different ways of doing things. Sorry. I'm getting to it.

You might be thinking those first two images are half-assed, ineffectual attempts at silhouette shots, but they're actually posted to illustrate something I sometimes do when I'm shooting, i.e., I fire all the strobes except the mainlight so I can really see what's going on with the accent lights I've set.

Modeling lights let you see, sort of, what's going on with all the lights... theoretically, at least, and assuming all your lights have modeling light capability. For the most part, you can see the modeling lights at work while you're snapping away and they do give you a pretty good idea of what your flashtubes are going to produce when they're fired. But if you really want to get a good look at what those highlighting lights are doing, try snapping a few with just them firing. And after doing so, take a look at a histogram. You'll find out exactly what those lights are doing and whether or not they're providing the highlights you're hoping for. You might also discover they're providing something you're probably not hoping for: Blown-out highlights! You'll also be able to see what kind of spill is coming from them. Spill is often difficult to see and detect with modeling lights. It's also easy to overlook spill, i.e., spill where you don't want it, until you're post-processing the images. Too late to do much at that point except get to work with the clone tool and other PS tools.

Okay. That's my first little studio-shooting tip for 2007. Hope some of you find it helpful and worth trying out. Model is Margo. I shot these about a year-and-a-half ago with a Canon 20D w/28-135 IS USM. ISO 100 f/5.0 @ 125th.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

If I point out to some shooter something he or she is doing that's just plain wrong, I'm just being helpful, right? After all, if I don't point out what they're doing that's wrong, they'll probably keep on doing it... doing it wrong, that is. I don't think that's me being a smartass. It's me being a nice, helpful guy, no?

Lovely thought. Unfortunately, my experience has often been that the road to Hell really is paved with good intentions. But I keep trying when I think it is important.

Fred said...

That's a really great suggestion - to fire the secondat lights without the primary to see what the effect is going to be. Thanks.

BTW, you ever see me doing anything you don't like or think is wrong (on Photocamel) speak up!