Tuesday's Tips: Lighting Science: 4 Situations, 2 Hours

Recently, I had an assignment to photograph Professor Joshua Sanes of Harvard University.  The client requested an environmental portrait. I alway try to give the client several choices.  This helps with layout and often leads to additional photographs being used in the story.   I had one hour to set up and one hour shooting time.

Set up1)
At 9am, I walked into his office to meet him. It was hard to not notice the incredible light being cast through the window shades, onto the bookshelf creating a cool pattern. This had to be the first photograph of the day and done quickly, as at this time of year the light coming through the window shade, at that angle would not last long.  

I wanted to keep the pattern on the background, but prevent it from hitting the professor.  To accomplish this I had my assistant hold a piece of black foam core blocking the light on the professor without blocking the light hitting the background.

My lighting was a Dynalite Baja 400w/s strobe with a small Chimera soft box with silver interior and a recessed front panel.  The Dynalite was triggered with a PocketWizard PlusIII. The softbox was aimed at the Professor so it would not to spill it onto the background.  The Baja was placed on the stage left, so the light from the strobe would be in the same direction as the pattern from the window. I used a Sunbounce silver reflector on a stand on the opposite side, to fill in the shadow area.  To determine the exposure I used a Sekonic 478 flashmeter to read both my ambient light coming through the window and match it to the strobe output. I exposed for the highlights coming in through the window and matched to store out to the ambient light. 

The photograph was shot with a Nikon D810 and a 105mm lens the shutter speed 1/160 sec at f3.2 at ISO 100.  I tend to shoot my portraits with a shallow depth of field. 

Set up 2)
We moved to a staircase near his office, one side has a wooden wall and the other a wonderful grey stone wall.  Two different backgrounds in one location.  Opposite the camera in both images is a floor to ceiling window.  The side with the wooden wall, had a shadow pattern from the stairs.  I asked the professor to stand in the shade and used my Dynalite to match the highlights in the background with the light on the professors face. Similar to the last setup.

 

Set up 3)
We then moved to the other side of the stairs for a totally different look.  3 portraits done in a short period of time.

 

Set up 4)
For the last photograph of the shoot we went to his lab for a completely different photograph.   It was dark white room with bare walls.  To make it more interesting, I projected one of the professor's research images on the wall.

My lighting of the professor consisted of two Nikon SB-800 speedlights with Rogue grids, one from the right side and the other from left side.  I added Rosco Cinefoil to one of the speedlights to help prevent light from spilling onto the foreground.  I used the speedlights, because of tight space.  

For the background, the projector was set up with the professor's image.  An important note on projecting images on a background:  make sure no light from any of your light sources hits the projected image. White light hitting your projected image or added colors will diminish the vibrance to the projection.  I added a Dynalite Roadmax 800w/s strobe with Rosco blue gel to fill in the background.  All the strobe were fired with Pocket Wizard Plus IIIs.

I had to balance my exposure from 5 different light sources. 3 strobes and the available light from the microscope and the projected image.  The exposure was 1.3 second f5.6  ISO250.  During long exposure it is essential to turn off or block all ambient light.  I shot this on a Nikon 17-35mm f2.8 lens at 17mm an Induro tripod with a cable release.  Even though the exposure was quite long, the subject is sharp because there was no light on the professor.


Here is a list of my workshops, please come and join us!

December 5
Hunt's Location Lighting Workshop, Melrose. MA

December 11-13
Unique Photo Show Fairfield, NJ

2016 Schedule

January 9
Hunts Photo Providence, RI

January 16
Hunts Photo Manchester, NH

March 1
Bedford Center for the Arts, Bedford, MA

April 5-6
New England Institute of Professional Photography, Hyannis, MA

April 9-10
CanAm Photo Expo  Buffalo, NY

April 15-19
Professional Photographers of Canada Convention, Alberta,