This is the first in a series of submissions by Don Becker of db Creative Images Photography (OMP Member #155)
I just read one more blurb describing an expensive workshop with all of the wonderful instructors, massive amounts of state-of-the-art equipment, thousands of dollars worth of props, and 10 or 12 flawless, gorgeous models who were begging to donate their time to have the opportunity to get photographed in these workshops. Yes, I am jealous! I would LOVE to be invited to photograph in the OMP studios in Fort Lauderdale, or anyplace else that this happens! But really, do you need all of that to get great photographs? And, I wonder how many attendees returned home having learned techniques that they could really use in their own photography?
My situation is different. I have a power pack with a few heads, a couple rolls of 107″ wide background paper (I only seem to use the white and the black ones… I will get into that in a later article), a few props that I also use around the house (couple of chairs, a small folding step stool, a few pieces of jewelry and cloth, etc.), and my ingenuity. Maybe your situation is similar to mine. I know that the budding professional photographers that I teach in the school where I am a faculty member don’t even have as much equipment as I do. So I try to teach them to understand what the lights are DOING, regardless of whether they are 100 watt light bulbs, photoflood lights, quartz-halogen continuous lights, small portable flash units, or a real studio flash system…. you can get the same results with any of them. This is especially true with digital capture, where you can “tune” the white balance in the camera to get the colors you want… and if necessary, tune them some more in Photoshop!
What I am going to do is describe one glamour lighting setup, using a black background, and shown below in diagram form. I am using two heads on my power pack, both BEHIND the model, one at a 135° angle from the camera to the left, and the other at a 135° angle from the camera to the right. Those two lights outline the model, giving hot, specular highlights on both sides of the model. Then, I have a large reflector directly between the model and the camera, with an 8″ diameter hole in the reflector, to shoot through. I made this reflector myself from two 2′x6′ pieces of Â½ ” white FomCor, taped together on the long end, angled so it will stand up by itself.
This reflector provides the main/key light, which is the only light shining on the front of the model. Finally, there are a number of “flags” (e.g., 2′x3′ pieces of cardboard or equivalent, clamped to light stands) to shield the camera lens and the background from the high intensity of the direct flash heads, as shown in the diagram.
Presto, you have a wonderful soft lighting system that is very flattering to the model and also dynamic by virtue of the strong outline of the models face, hair and figure. You do have to be careful and watch that the model does not have bright lights on parts of her face or body that would detract from the final image. Now, take a close look at the lighting diagram to make sure you understand what all of the parts are doing, and then see how this lighting works on beautiful OMP model Becca (in green, OMP #78437) and on the pretty “tween” model Brandi (OMP #326296).
Now, try it yourself, and see what you can do with a setup like this. I bet you will like it!