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Soft Light and Dynamic Color

Soft Light and Dynamic Color

Colorful Flowers – Soft Indirect Lighting set.

I learned this technique from a Nancy Brown book, Photographing People for Advertising. Nancy used this lighting to create intense color in a shot of people with colorful attire.

I incorporated this technique for my “food store flowers”, a perfect lighting technique for this subject.

All light coming from behind the subject was blocked by the black formica behind the flowers and the V-flats around the set. The camera shot through the small slit opening in the V-flats. The interior of the V-flats were white fabric to let the light “fall” onto the flowers.

 

Photo Progression

  1. start
  2. background light bouncing off of the white seamless
  3. added a 6x6 frame with diffusion to spread light – this and previous step to spread light with minimum distance
  4. black formica as background for flowers and a rig to hold the flower bouquet
  5. almost ready to shoot – add the flowers and close the front of the V-flats for a narrow opening to shoot through

Gear:
DynaLite Lighting, Chimera Panels and Frames for the V-flats and 6x6 diffusion panel, Olympus cameras and the flowers were from Safeway!

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Light Masking

Light Masking

Light Masking or a tale of three maskings.

Masking subjects for replacing the background can be very tedious.  As a photographer, you could leave that task for the graphic artist.  But if you, the photographer, supply the files with perfect clipping paths, you become a more valuable part of the creative team.

The masking challenges:

Subject 1–  stuffed animal with a feather – feather with delicate wisps.

L to R:  The set up on glass lets light show through all around subject  —  Main exposure for subject  —  Background exposure for mask  —  processed mask ready for Photoshop process.

Subject 2–  lantern – a subject with transparency

We want the background to come through the transparent areas and keep the inside and globe surface detail.

Here are some options.

Subject 3-  a location and studio shoot  –  This location shoot was canceled due to snow.

To complete this for a deadline,  I shot the skate park a day earlier than the snow fall and two days later, I shot the skate boarder in the studio.  With masking, we put this all together.

The Process

I have been using the Hensel FreeMask radio triggers on my Dynalite power packs for executing the two lighting exposures in this process.  They fire almost simultaneously.  Lighting is divided into, first for the subject, and then instantly the background.  You need the Hensel radios for this, especially for human subjects (camera set for minimum of 6 frames per second – 10 frames is better).  The two frames are processed in Photoshop.  See details at the links below.

Hensel linkhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyfmAAfuf3o

The Processhttps://youtu.be/JdY_4-xhRs0

CAMERA- Olympus M1, LIGHTS- DynaLite,  RADIO TRIGGERING- Hensel Free Mask

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Cross Polarize

Cross Polarize

Cross Polarization of Plastic – Magic

I learned this way back at the beginning of my career, from a very technical photographer and one of the original Harmonicats – (goes back to the old Ed Sullivan Show days – look them up!).

This technique, I was told, is a way to check stress in plastic manufacturing. I adopted it as a creative tool.

The set up is a gel polarizing filter on a light box or light source. Position the plastic subject between your camera and the light. Add the polarizer filter on your lens and rotate until all the light from the source goes black. The light coming through the plastic gives you the magic swirls of color. I’ve used this on assignments as well as stock illustrations.  Great unique look and you always get asked, How did you do that!

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Repurpose HDR

Repurpose HDR

HDR Re-Purposed
Popular now, is the long exposures to smooth motion in water, clouds, etc. This is a good technique via tripod, heavy ND filter and very long exposures. An alternative to long exposures is taking multiple exposures using HDR (High Dynamic Range) and processing into one image. The effect is not better nor worse – only a bit different.

1. Flag in Wing
First, here’s to all those who serve, and have served our country. To create the multiple positions of the flag in the wind, the camera was set on a tripod and multiple exposures mere made for HDR (high dynamic range). Knowing that the flag positions would not line up and register, this created my intended vision.
After processing the HDR image, the background colors were desaturated to bring the emphasis to the colors in the flag. This was a unique re-purposing of HDR.

2. Peanut Warehouse and the Sky
In the old warehouse shot, HDR was purposed for the high dynamic range and with the slower shooting in manual, the clouds showed movement. Here we achieved a dual effect, the high dynamic range in the photo as well as movement in the clouds.

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QCC Quick Contrast

QCC Quick Contrast

QCC — Quick Contrast Control

“How To Change the Contrast On Your Subject In Two-Seconds!”

Here is a fast and efficient method of controlling contrast using a shoot through panel (this one is from Chimera).

Our assignment is to shoot an environmental portrait in a work place.  We position a 42x42″ frame with a standard diffusion for a “shoot-through” main light.

The subject is seated on the edge of a desk, a window view in the back ground and the panel frame in position for the key light plus another panel with silver reflective panel as a fill reflector.

The top row shows a Hensel monolight strobe at a distance from our panel frame, filling the diffusion panel evenly to produce a soft wrap of light around our subjects face.

Then in seconds we can change the contrast on our subject (bottom row) by moving the strobe closer to the panel frame creating a small concentrated spot of light on the panel and Viola – we have changed the contrast without any major effort. We never had to move the panel. Now make a quick adjustment to your exposure or power down the flash.

Tips on Exposure:  in the above examples, the camera exposure was changed in the higher contrast image and the background went darker.  To keep the background the same density as in the first mage, the power of the strobe could have been reduced so to maintain the same exposure.  Either way works, it is just a matter of how you want your background to look.

Gear:  Hensel Flash and Chimera Panel/Frames.

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Hero Bike

Hero Bike

Motorcycle Hero Shot – trade show displays
This red Yamaha sport bike has an interesting look when viewed from an elevated high frontal position. It reminded me of a space alien with big eyes.  This motorcycle was mounted on a rolling platform.  The base of the platform was covered with diamond plate steel which has a great texture and is a part of the automotive community.
The first decision was to shoot from the high frontal angle and to include the diamond plate as the background.  The second thought process was about lighting the the background diamond plate.  What if the diamond plate was also red — here we go.

The BackgroundLighting:  The solution was to roll the bike and platform into a corner of the show room in front of clean neutral colored walls. Then two DynaLite flash heads were pointed into the walls, one on each side of the motorcycle.  Both flash heads were equipped with red gels. I carry 4 sets of lighting gels on location – diffusion, neutral density, color conversion and color effects.  This lighting was bounced off the wall to illuminate the diamond plate and the exposure had to be adjusted to match the main light on the front of the motorcycle.

The Main Light:  I travel with a Bogen / Manfrotto 3-piece location boom and used one section of the boom to be able to put my DynaLite flash head directly over the camera, centered to the front of the motorcycle.  The motorcycle is a highly reflective subject which would normally require a very large light source – impractical in my situation.  A flash head alone, a very small source, can illuminate the front of the motorcycle producing a very small highlight that is not intrusive. I left the highlight in the shot, but it could have been retouched out in post.

In this stylized shot, two different reflective surfaces were lit to enhance and balance the subject and background with similar color.

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