This post has been a long time coming. I mean a long time like since the summer of 2000! The only time since then that I’ve been able to shoot in a controlled lighting environment was 5 minutes in the WKU photojournalism studio to get a ‘maternity’ shot of Carrie. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while now…
So we’ve been in this house for 1.5 years and the old ‘formal dining room’ has been our office/playroom/storage. It’s only 10’6″ x 13′ with 8’6″ ceilings. Seems like a decent small space when you’re standing in there, but when you’re trying to do a full-length portrait with lights on the backdrop — you need a LOT more space than that (15′x30′ with 12-15′ ceilings is a good start). I should be able to do headshots, 3/4 length portraits, and of course tabletop stock stuff — but the real challenge will be full-length isolated on white. I will probably have to shoot through the doorway from the next room, no joke. Like this:
Check it out now:
Notice the hole in the ceiling where that awful brass thing was (maybe I’ll hang props there some time. like a disco ball. birds. I dunno). Remember, this is just over 10′ wide — just barely wide enough for the standard 9′ roll of seamless white paper, but not wide enough for it to be on stands. So I found the studs in the wall and hung two brackets that hold the crossbar for the paper.
Can you spot the lights? That key light is an Alien Bee 800 into a 60″ umbrella (satin white with black backing, 1/4 power in this shot). The two lights on the white BG are two Canon 580EXii speedlights (hiding behind those white foamcore cutters), that are triggered by Cybersync receivers. One’s sitting on the windowsill, and one is on the filing cabinet, and they covered the BG (background) pretty well at 1/2 power and 35mm zoom. Need to make some adjustments (maybe a permanent mini shelf on the wall there?), as you can see in the photos below.
Remember what I said about shooting through the doorway from the next room?? Well in the above photo, you can see the doorway trim on the left edge. Basically I’ll have to do this to get isolated on white, full length shots (if I want to shoot without going all distorted, zoomed out with a wider angle). The white tile board for the floor and paper is coming next. They’re 4×8′ so that’s a trip I need to plan for….
The goal here was to get the BG totally blown out to white, while keeping the subject (the invisible model in that chair) free from the BG lights. Two things do that: the cutters that shield the 580ex flashes, and the distance from the BG (which I don’t have a lot of!). This is why I’m shooting from the next room – the subject will have to stand in the middle of this room to be safely isolated on white without to much ‘wrap’ from the BG light. Of course, I’ll be doing much more than on-white. Hopefully I’ll have more room when I don’t need to blow out the BG, and can use those lights for fill and interesting cross lighting techniques. But here is how to check for the pure white:
1. turn on the ‘highlight alert’ in camera, and check the LCD while you shoot. The blinking is kind of annoying, and dangerous if you’re prone to seizures, so you can also:
2. turn on the ‘view highlight alert’ in the menu of your RAW software. Canon’s looks like this:
You can also just underexpose it about 2 stops and start to see the coverage:
Well, that’s all for now. It’s pretty late :\ but I wanted to share the progress with you :) Stay tuned for some -hopefully- great new shots with the studio look!
Oh, and I’m selling a Canon 430ex (1st edition) speedlight flash on eBay right now.