Studio Lighting Practice – Steve Smith Photography

Last week I was sitting in the examining room of the doctors awaiting those gruesome words, “you in fact broke your thumb.” I would need to be placed in a cast for four weeks. While I sat impatiently thinking over how this cast would cut out my bike riding abilities I tried to ease my mind by reading a Newsweek. As I flipped through its pages a photo of some prestigious woman caught my attention. This photo wasn’t your everyday tight glamor shot. Instead of focusing just on the subject, the photo took a step back to give you a behind the scenes look of the lighting scenario. The photographer or more likely the photographer’s assistant had set a light up on a C-stand hanging directly above and behind the subject. In front of the woman there was an assistant holding two fill cards at 45* angles to bounce the light into her face. This allowed the photographer to bring in the natural background light, highlight the woman’s hair as well as adding illumination to the subjects face. This setup was intriguing and motivated me to try setting up various lighting scenarios on my own in the studio where I work, Steve Smith Photography.

My first scene had me attempting to recreate the scene in the magazine. Being in a cast, I neglected to use a C-stand and opted for a regular stand not worrying about seeing it in the background. I used a raw head and set it roughly two feet above my feet. As I sat in a high-top chair I held two fill cards above and below me at those 45* angles. Lastly, I setup our Canon 1ds Mark III on a tripod directly in front of me. The camera was hooked into our G5 and I used a combination of the EOS Utility and Bridge to capture and evaluate the images.

It was an “ok” setup my mind. Might be good if you’re looking to take minimal lighting equipment. My next scenario came about while I was adjusting focus in front of the camera. I realized that it was focusing close in on my face and I decided to go with it. I cut the rear light and ditched the fill cards. In their place was a large soft box set far off to my right side to give more a defined cast of shadows.

My mom, Jeane Gadd-Smith, came down to check out the setup and I had her stand in for a shot. For this image she wrapped her long curly hair around her face.

My most favorite and last scene of the day was a simple setup often seen in fashion photography. This had a large soft box placed directly behind and just above the camera. It creates some rather striking light.

I’m eager to play with this more in my spare time. Hope you enjoy.

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~ by skier2435 on October 28, 2008.

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