Tuesday's Tips: Creating Backgrounds With Cinefoil, Gels And Scissors!

This week's Tuesday Tips is a series of photographs from my studio.  As a photojournalist and corporate photographer, I do the majority of my work on location, although I do shoot some assignments in my studio.  Quite often, I use my studio as my test kitchen, exploring new lighting techniques and testing new equipment.   We were working with the idea of creating unique patterns with color on a plain white backdrop using Rosco gels, and Cinefoil, which is black tinfoil.  What we were able to create, using similar lighting setups, and minor changes in the lighting, resulted in a totally different look in the background. 

Three lights were used with all three photographs below.  A main light on the model, a hairline light, and a backlight on the backdrop.  To create the pattern on the background, we cut holes in piece of Cinefoil and shot a strobe with a blue gel through it. The effect of lighting these images with Speedlights verses Dynalites are vastly different. 

The large light source will give you a softer light, while the speedlght, a smaller light source, will give you a harsher light effect.

Lighting setup and gear used:  
Nikon D800 camera
Nikon 70-200 f2.8 lens
3 strobes (Speedlights & Dynalite)
Rosco Cinefoil
Rosco CTO (orange gel)
Rosco blue gel
Rosco Tough Spun
Reflector
 Pocket Wizard Plus III, TT5 
Light Meter (I use Sekonic 478 DR)
Chimera Softbox
Manfrotto light stands
Boom (to hang a piece of Cinefoil)
Clamps

This diagram shows the basic setup.  I used different lights to achieve different visual effects on my images.  I used Sekonic 478 DR Lightmeter.  All strobes were fired using PocketWizard.  When adding colors to your photographs with gels, it is important that your white light does not hit the colored areas, as the white light will blow away your colors.

Dynalite setup:
My main light was a Dynalite with a Chimera Softbox.  My hairline light was another Dynalite head with a grid and a Rosco full CTO gel.  The background light was shot through custom cut Cinefoil with a Rosco blue gel.

set up

set up

Speedlights and softbox setup:
All lights for this setup were Speedlights.  The main light I used was a Nikon SB900 with Chimera Softbox as a light modifier.  The background light on the white backdrop was Nikon SB900 with Rosco blue gel with a custom cut Rosco Cinefoil.  For the hairline light, I used another Speedlight.  I put Cinefoil around the Speedlight to make a snoot, so that I can direct the light to only illuminate her hair.

Notice the drastic difference on the background pattern between the Speedlight setup and the Dynalite setup. This is because of the size of light source in relation to size of Cinefoil.  The smaller the light source, harder the edge of the shadow.  
I prefer to use a Chimera Softbox for the high quality of a light, for easy set up, and for its compact size for easy travel.

Speedlight and Cinefoil
You can create a very nice hard light with Rosco Tough Spun and Rosco Cinefoil.  This is an all Speedlight setup.  The main light on the model's face is a Speedlight with Cinefoil to control its direction, and Rosco Tough Spun to soften the light.  If you compare this light with the light through a Softbox, the edge of shadow is much harder.  I also rotated the sheet of Cinefoil to change the background pattern.

 

My assistant, Keiko, created this heart shaped pattern cut out of Cinefoil.  This is a Dynalite setup.  My main light on the model's face is a Dynalite with grid.

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Thank you to Hyunah Jang, who is also a wonderful photographer, for being a model for this shoot!

The Gels, Tough Spun, and Cinefoil I use, are all included in the Rosco Rick Friedman's Location Lighting Kit available for purchase at my Location Lighting Store here.

To learn this lighting technique and many others, come join me for a three day Location Lighting Workshop at Telluride Photo Festival in beautiful Telluride, CO on September 29th - October 1st, 2014. It will be fall foliage time!  

A Day at the Asylum in London!  This will be a very fun workshop to be sure! I am teaching during the Societies Photographic Convention in London, UK on January 16th trough 18th, 2014. ( The Asylum workshop in on January 17th)

The workshops will cover use of Speedlights and Studio strobes with various light modifiers and gels.  We hope you can join us for one of the hands on workshops.  

Please visit my website for a complete list of upcoming workshops.