Friday, October 28, 2011

Soft kitty...

warm kitty. Little ball of fur.

If you havn't noticed already. I love playing with light, and through the University of Waterloo Photography Club (UWPC) I have access to some very powerful strobes. The club has several AleinBees strobes that are available for rent to its members. They also use them at their meetups.

I was recently asked to set up some lighting for a model who volunteered for the meet in return for photos for a portfolio. I thought I would share how I accomplished this photo.

Canon EOS 7D
Canon 70-200mm f/4L
1/250, ISO 100, f/18, 180mm
Click image to see fullsize

Read more about this shot after the jump.

When it comes to light there is one word that you tend to hear a lot. That word is "soft". But what does it mean for light to be soft?

Soft light refers to the abruptness of the transition from lit areas to shadows. Notice on a sunny day, the shadow cast by the sun is very clear cut. You have lit area, then BAM shadows. There is little to no transition. Compare that to an overcast day, the transition is much less abrupt. This is also why many photographers enjoy shooting in overcast conditions more than noon on a clear day.

Soft light also tends to be more flattering. Hence its usage.

There are several ways to create "soft" light, most of which normally boil down to one thing. The apparent size of your light source. For this shoot we used two techniques together.

1. Physically make your light source bigger.
2. Make your light source look bigger.

In order to make our light source look bigger the AlienBee Strobes were shot through softboxes. For those of you that do not know what a softbox is, it is a large reflective "umbrella" that is placed over the strobe head. This large "box" reflects light from the strobe head to cover the whole face of the box which then becomes a larger light source than the strobe head alone (called bare bulb).

In order to make the light source look bigger the softbox was placed very close to the subject. The closer he light the softer it becomes because it appears larger. Think of it this way, you see a cruise ship on the horizon, it looks tiny! Barely the size of a fingertip! Now imagine you are standing right beside it. It's enormous! Same cruise ship, two completely different perspectives.

Using two softboxes right next to each side of the model we created very soft wrapping light. Zoomed back out the scene looked like this:

Canon EOS 7D
Canon 17-40mm f/4L
1/250, ISO 100, f/18, 25mm
Click image for fullsize

Had we been shooting full body shots I would have used longer stripboxes or moved them down, but since we were only shooting upper body this was okay.

Notice how close the lights are to the model!

And of course after seeing the results of this lighting setup the other photogs were eager to get their photo taken.

Canon EOS 7D
Canon 70-200mm f/4L
1/250, ISO 100, f/18, 73mm
Click image to see fullsize

And of course there was Nikonians there. We play nice! And this next image was my favourite of the set. Even if it does feature a Nikon.

Canon EOS 7D
Canon 70-200mm f/4L
1/250, ISO 100, f/18, 70mm
Click image to see fullsize

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