Slouching Toward A Style

Now that I’ve got David Hobby’s AFKA process (Ambient, Fill, Key, Accent) as a point of departure, I more confidently experiment with other aspects of my photographs. For example, I wanted the publicity shots for the Ojai Art Center Theater production of Hello Dolly to look olde-timey and contemporary at the same time.  I thought I could achieve this paradox through lighting and color manipulation.

For lighting, I tried to emulate a big, north-facing window.  The key light is an SB600 flash with a Sto-fen Omni-Bounce and a 60″ shoot-through umbrella.  The fill is my SB800 with a Gary Fong Lightsphere, on camera.  For accent and background, I used an SB600 with Omni-Bounce and a small shoot-through umbrella. The lighting didn’t always work perfectly, because I couldn’t move the subjects far enough from the background without falling off the stage myself.

This shot of Horace and Dolly (Buddy and Jaye) shows how we got directional lighting with the sb600 at camera-left, but kept details in the shadows via on-axis fill. I learned something new about on-axis fill during this shoot: One must pose subjects carefully to keep highly reflective glasses off-axis.

The colors are a fairly bold stylistic experiment for me. The play takes play in the 1890s, and I wanted the images to look like something between a hand-tinted black and white photo and a faded color photo. I don’t know whether I nailed that precise effect, but I’m quite happy with the results.  And isn’t that where style really comes from?

Dr. Halverson channels Buster Keaton, while Jonathan serves up a romanticized Billy the Kid. Playgoers will know them as Cornelius and Barnaby.

Speedlight users might be surprised at my choice of an SB600 as key light. The combination of the Omni-Bounce cap and big umbrella really spreads the light, but it's not precisely "soft" light, because the umbrella has to be several feet away to light the whole group. The result seems softer because the diffused, on-camera fill light lifts the shadows. Once again, we get both dimension and detail thanks to off-axis key and on-axis fill.

Would you like to know how I manipulated the colors? And why do I use the Lightsphere for my on-axis fill? Well, if I told you now, what would I blog about next week?


Filed under Composition, Dance and Theater, Lighting, Portraiture

2 responses to “Slouching Toward A Style

  1. Jude

    The photos are so beautifully sharp ‘n clear ….. nice!

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