Tuesday's Tips: Lighting Science

On a recent assignment  I had the honor to photograph Professor Stephen Lippard, an  American bioinorganic chemist and the Arthur Amos Noyes Professor of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and 2014  winner of the Priestley Medal.   I had about 2 hours, including any set ups, to create a magazine cover, large lead photograph and photographs of him in his environment. 

On my way to meet the professor at his office on MIT campus, I came across a large glass block periodic table on the wall at the elevator hall in his building.   After meeting the professor  and photographing him in his office , I asked him to come down to the lobby to be photographed with the periodic table for the cover shot.  

To light the professor, I used a Dynalite Uni, a 400WS monolight with small Chimera soft box  as the main light, with black formcore as gobo to prevent the white light from spilling on to the background.  In the back, I set up a Dynalite Roadmax 800 power supply with 2 heads with Rosco blue gel on one side and and Rosco  yellow gels on the other side.   I  placed a Nikon SB-900 strobe with Rosco red gel on the floor shooting up at the periodic table.   All the strobes were fired with Pocket Wizard Plus III’s.  I placed the reflector on the same  light stand as the boom holding the model of a molecule, because there was so little space.  The model of the molecule was hung from the boom with fishing line. The other challenge was that the set up and shoot had to be completed in 45 minutes. This photographs was shot with Nikon D800 and 24-70, F2.8 Nikon lens.  This is a photograph of the set up and how it look like without the light on.


 For this assignment, as is the case with most of my assignments, I was not given any art direction and there was no location scouting time before the shoot.  My job was to come in, quickly asses my environment, create a photographs that magazine would love.