Lighting Permutations

When you look at the work of strobinistas like David Hobby or Joe McNally, you’re seeing the cumulative knowledge that comes from lighting and shooting hundreds of thousands of images. They share a lot of fantastic information on their blogs, but there is no substitute for experience, and I suspect a lot of their lighting decisions are subconscious at this point.

Consider the lighting challenge: white face, black tux, dark hair, black background. Lighting the curtains sapped all the drama out of the images, so I tried cross lighting from rear/left. But with two people, I had to watch for her throwing shadows from the key light and him throwing shadows from the cross light.

For me, every session with off camera flash is still a journey into the unknown. I might spend twenty minutes or so setting up lights to shoot an individual. As soon as a second person steps into the frame, a whole new set of calculations is required.  More people, more permutations – angles, power levels, planes.  My brain hurts.  But it’s a good pain, like from working out (or so I’m told).

I look at a photo like this, and I can think of a thousand ways to do it differently next time, but this is what I got yesterday. And now I totally understand why people with two speedlights want three, and people with three want four, and so on.

Until recently, I was aghast at the idea of showing one of my lights in an image. Now I kind of like the effect. By the way, the green is lens flare caused by shooting directly at a light source.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – order tickets for Cabaret at the Art Center Theater in Ojai.

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Filed under Dance and Theater, Lighting

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