I have the privilege to be part of an active photography group on Facebook cleverly titled “About Photography Group” ( facebook.com/groups/aboutphotographygroup ). There are some very creative people on there regularly, and I get many ideas and much inspiration from discussing and appreciating their look. Two particular posts have really caught my eye. And the photographers that took them have been very gracious in explaining how they created them. This is my experimentation with trying to reproduce the looks.
Photo By Joe’s (photographybyjoe.com) ”signature” colored background
First of all, I finally found a Styrofoam modeling head at a local beauty supply shop. It’s a great way to have a subject that doesn’t get bored while you woodshed in the studio. For under $5, you can’t go wrong. They are white which makes them VERY reflective and more of a challenge to not overexpose, but field goal kickers practice on skinny goal post for a reason. I will look into painting them with something flesh tone though to make it more realistic.
Here I’m using a combination of a 40-degree grid and a purple gel above and just behind the subject and focused onto a black backdrop. He uses paper, but these are on fabric. The fabric doesn’t work as well, and I will be using paper in the future. I used a 10-degree grid on my rim light behind and to the left of the subject. If I had a full person, I most likely would go with a small umbrella or softbox since i don't own a strip light. The key light is a beauty dish with with a diffuser on the front.
Joe’s genius really kicks in when he gets the colors and compositions with his models working in concert with the cool background. That will be my next step.
Tim Skipper's (timskipperphotography.com) dramatic and moody side lighting
Tim does such wonderfully dramatic images. It’s easy to get distracted from the fact that he is a lighting wiz by his composition work, which is striking. Even in his most complex digitally enhanced images, the lighting of the subjects is spot on. For this exercise, however, I was inspired by one of his simpler creations. It’s a striking image of a young lady clutching a wrap with very directional, but still soft lighting. Here is my take on it, and through in the idea of using the reflection of the wall to give the subject a little extra glow. I have shot something like this before, but not with the directional lighting. The key light was at 45-degrees above the subject and feathered well into the wall. I controlled the light with a 40-degree grid, and used a reflector to lighten up the other side of the face. I will raise it up a little higher next time as I seemed to have highlighted that magical fleshy region under the chin a bit much.
So, there you go. A little woodshedding I did on two great looks that I picked up from artists that were kind enough to share their thoughts with me. I’m still a long way from mastering these looks, but I really don’t have any ambitions of copying them exactly. I am just learning what I can on their approach and then letting the ideas flow to hopefully find a look of my own.
The lighting diagrams here were made with The Online Lighting Diagram Creator. It’s a wonderful free tool that helps to collect your thoughts. It’s also a great way to show concepts to clients!