Friday, January 27, 2012

Location Shooting vs. Studio Shooting

Generally, I prefer shooting in a studio. Why? Well, d'uh. Because, from a lighting perspective, I can control almost everything. I'm not sure if that qualifies me as an all-around, Type A Personality, control freak -- I'm not, BTW. Not even close -- but, when it comes to lighting for photography, especially when shooting models, I am something of a control freak bordering on anal retentive.

When shooting on locations, however, especially in daylight or where daylight impacts an interior space, I'm often confronted with lighting situations that are more difficult to control. Obviously, it's that pesky sunlight that keeps screwing with my desires to be an equally anal-retentive lighting control freak when I'm shooting at many locations instead of in a studio.

If you follow photo blogs or participate on forums or commune with other photographers on social media, you might remember how overcoming daylight became all the rage last year or so. Suddenly, many photographers were producing images using strobes in daylight and overcoming the sun from an exposure perspective. Doing this became very popular when Pocket Wizard came out with triggering devices that could exceed a camera's maximum sync speed. Many of the images which resulted were quite dramatic looking.

While I've shot an image or two where I've trumped daylight with my strobes, I prefer to work with daylight, rather than fight against it or engage in techniques designed to beat it at its own game.

Since most of my work involves shooting glamour models, I'm almost always striving to make my models pop from the backgrounds or out of the environments I'm shooting them in. There are a variety ways to accomplish this: lighting, exposure, lens selection (i.e., focal distance), choice of background or environment, and more. Course, when the model is beautiful, sexy, and not wearing much, she's also contributing much in terms of popping herself from the background. I mean, nearly regardless of the lighting, exposure, etc., a gorgeous, mostly unclad model is going to self-pop to a fair degree. Especially when the images' viewers are heterosexual males.

There are many ways to work with available sunlight rather than feeling like it's working against you. And you can do so regardless of whether the sunlight is direct, indirect, or merely providing ambient light. You can work with it either by using artificial light, the sunlight itself via reflectors, scrims, flags, or a combination of both. Sometimes, the choice of how to proceed seems obvious and things like efficiency kicks in to help you realize that obvious choice. Other times, it truly is a matter of choice. That is, you can choose from a variety of ways to work with the light by adding to what's available or subtracting from it. For those instances, your creative vision, coupled with things like time and efficiency and available gear generally become the decision-makers.

In the image of Faye at the top, we were shooting in a second-story warehouse-like studio. There was a big bank of windows on one side and, given the time of day and the weather conditions, the sunlight was pouring through it. Certainly, I could have shot away from it. But I was drawn to the shadows created by the windows. I thought they looked cool, especially the way they were being thrown onto the nearly white carpeting. So, I decided to shoot in that spot.

I was working as part of the crew for a video production so, besides myself and my lighting gear, there was a gaffer and his lighting guys present. They, of course, also had their lighting gear, including some HMIs. (Hydrargyrum Medium-arc Iodide lamps.) I asked the gaffer if I could use one of his HMIs for two reasons: 1) They throw a lot of light and could easily go nose-to-nose with the daylight coming through the windows and 2) The light they produce is daylight color temperature. BTW, HMIs are very expensive. I don't own any. But when I have opportunities to throw one or two into my lighting mix, and it makes sense to do so, I'll ask whoever is in charge of them if I can use them.

Here's a behind-the-scenes shot below. I noticed the gaffer was chatting with the model while I was doing whatever I was doing so I snapped a quick one. You can see the HMI in the upper right, the windows to the left, and a couple of reflectors, one of them called a "shiny board" and sitting on the set behind the gaffer. Throughout the set with Faye, and besides employing the HMI, I was using one or both of the reflectors for fill. The HMI was equipped with a Fresnel lens which gave the images a decidedly film noir-ish feel.

1 comment:

womackphotokcmo said...

Jimmy, you know I love these BTS photos!