In my article Anatomy of a Self Portrait, I showed you how to, among other things, fill every crevice with light using multiple off-camera flashes. Today, I felt like doing the opposite, namely: filling almost every crevice with darkness using multiple off-camera flashes.
Bad light and bad image. I turned to software in my time of need. The light was coming from the wrong direction and software has a difficult time with that. I decided to do what I could with off-the-shelf basic software.
To eliminate the light I couldn’t control, I turned off the tungsten and the room lights (fluorescent) in the adjoining rooms. I also plugged the window with a blanket. Starting from scratch, now I was the light bringer.
Using Two Flashes, I set one on top of the piano with a Lumiquest Softbox. The other was set to at the end of the keyboard with a Lumiquest Snoot.
I was happy with the keyboard lighting but the face light illuminated to much area. I can see the background again and the sheet music and t-shirt logo are too distracting. The mood was too wistful. I wanted drama.
Already I had a much more usable image than before and I could probably take this into an image editor and get a superior image to my earlier attempt but I decided to take another step by relighting the image. I liked the warmth of the light so I kept it in trying to invoke a little lamp or candle-lit feel.
With a Speed Grid from Honl replacing the Softbox, I was able to get the quality of light on my face I desired and eliminated the spill over as well. Now I had effectively created two spotlights in a sea of blackness. The mood is getting more serious-don’t you think?
I wasn’t happy with placement or exposure yet but I am getting closer to my goal.
Light placement was off on my face but the hand was great. As long as I could remember the chord, I was set there. I needed to adjust my 580EXII with the Speed Grid to give me a wider throw and a better aim. I moved it back and closer to the piano lid’s edge and fired away.
I was pretty happy with the results. The pose was better too. Had this been a real model, I think I could have evoked the drama necessary to pull off the look I was after. Note that the sheet music visible in the Software Solution shot has vanished and the intruding Indezine logo on my shirt has faded into the shadows.
Canon 20D on tripod with a ST-E2 trigger driving two EX580 flash units.
The setup photograph was taken with a Canon A550 with onboard flash. (as evidenced by the nice shiny door panel)
In a room full of bad light, you can fill it with light of your own. Sometimes,however, the photograph requires that you fill it with darkness of your own so that you can invoke emotion with carefully selected splashes of light. It depends upon the needs of the moment.
Rikk Flohr © 2008