Monday, August 10, 2009

BIG LIGHT, Big Light, Small Light

Good post on photographer, Joe McNally's, blog: Big Light, Small Light.

I'll admit I stole part of McNally's title for this update. I added "BIG LIGHT" to it. This way, only two-thirds of my title is an actual rip-off. I did this because, besides thinking I'm being oh-so-clever whilst stealing his title, I thought I'd give some props to the biggest of BIG LIGHTS, the sun: Old Sol being a major lighting player in McNally's post and all.

If you haven't already taken the time to read McNally's update I recommend that you do. While his lighting approach to the work assignment wasn't rocket science, there's much to learn from its simplicity: It's one part "BIG LIGHT" with the sun producing the exterior illumination as well as a modicum of interior ambient, one part "Big Light" with a 2400ws pack-n-head blasting the interior of a big, windowed room, and one part "Small Light" employing a speedlite to highlight a person who, otherwise, would be little more than an anonymous silhouette in the foreground.

This is one of those times when the photographer, while needing artificial light to make good pictures, didn't over think his lighting approach and simplified what might have seemed, to less experienced photographers, a daunting, lighting, challenge.

While no white plastic garbage bags, a la Strobist, were used during McNally's shoot (with the possible exception of using them to toss garbage) his latest blog update is another example of the K.I.S.S. approach at work. (Keep It Simple Stupid.)

If McNally was shooting video with, say, a Canon 5Dmk2, it would have been much more difficult getting similar looking imagery, either by A) using multiple HMIs to balance the interior of the room with the exterior daylight or B) applying a lot of ND (Neutral Density) gel onto all those big windows. The ND gel approach, BTW, would've been expensive and labor-intensive. HMIs ain't cheap to rent and probably would've required an assistant or two to deploy. But since strobes put out a lot of light, if for a brief period of time, and they're easy to set, McNally was able to capture his assignment with minimal gear, not much fuss, and fairly easily without assistants... although assistants are always helpful for making, at the very least, the schlepping part of the job much easier.

The oddly-cropped, B&W-treated, gratuitous image of the under five-foot, under a hundred pounds, 18-year-old, Arizona-bred, partly Native American pretty girl at the top--whose name my brain refuses to recall even though I can remember all that other stuff about her and I only shot her merely a month or so ago--has nothing to do with the subject of this post or McNally's blog update. It's just there cuz, well, cuz it is.

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