Tuesday's Tips: To Light, or not to Light

I had an assignment to photograph author Nicolson Baker using a Kindle in Boston.  For a location we chose the front of the Boston Public Library. It was a grey day with even light on his face. I did not have to light it, however, my sky would have been blown out and just muddy.  By exposing for the sky and using my strobe to match the light on his face, I was able to produce this photograph with 1 Speedlight, 1 small soft box and a reflector.

Nicholson Baker with light

Nicholson Baker with light

Nicolson Baker without light 

Nicolson Baker without light 

 My camera was set on manual and my strobe was on TTL. I took a meter reading off the sky, using the camera meter and underexposed it slightly to get a darker background. The strobe on TTL lit Baker's face from the right side and the reflector on the left bounced some of the strobe back on to his face, to give more even lighting. I needed enough depth of field so both  Baker and the Kindle were in focus. My exposure was at ISO 320, F8, and Shutterspeed 1/80.  I used a small Chimera softbox with a Speedlight ring.  The Speedlight was triggered by a set of PocketWizard TT5s.  In positioning the Kindle, I had to make sure that there was no glare on the screen from my strobe.  This photograph was shot with a Nikon.

The timing also worked out. This photo shoot was done at the end of the day, because Baker had a book signing at the nearby bookstore after the photoshoot.  If it was at a different time of the day, I would have come up with a different picture, as the Kindle and underexposed sky could not be matched for the exposure under bright sunlight.  As a photojournalist,  you don't always control certain aspects of your photo shoot, but you can always be prepared. It is important to see the photograph in the environment that is assigned to you and come out with a unique image each time.  One of the elements I enjoy about photography is lighting and teaching other photographers about lighting.  A lit photograph tends to have a lot more jump and snap to it and I get to choose where the light is coming from!

Come join us at one of my upcoming Location Lighting Workshops in Telluride & London
September 29-Octoberr 1 at the Telluride Photo Festival, Telluride, CO
January 16-18, 2015 Societies Photographic Convention, London, UK 

Happy Lighting, everyone!