Fun with Perforated Hardboard, vol, 3

This shot I did of Radii shoes, I opted to use the board as an illuminated backdrop. I placed a strobe behind the pegboard and zoomed the flash head out to around 24mm to allow for a wide light spread across the board. My main light was a LumoPro LP160 attached to an LP621 mini-boom arm, shot into a silver umbrella above and slightly to the front of the shoes. I used a LumoPro LP655 silver reflector under the glass to light up the shoe soles.5

Exif Data: 1/200, f/5.6; 200mm; 500 ISO 


I recently had a photo student from Parsons email me. The final project in her class was to pick an image where she liked the lighting and try to figure out how it was lit and then recreate it. She did a pretty damn good job. The only difference was that she used two lights, one gelled blue, where I use one light with a blue reflector. You can see her portfolio at http://www.megantepper.com/


End of an Era

This was my last product shot for JackThreads. I freelanced for them for the past 14 months, up to the day they moved all production to NYC. I have learned more about lighting technique in the past year than any other time in my photo career. The fast-paced climate gave me little option. Now I have the freedom to set up a work space almost anywhere. All my preconceived notions about what every photo studio needs has been thrown out the window. My new “studio” is now a 10'x15’ unfinished basement, and I can shoot almost any product that I am given. 

And don’t worry. I will continue to post lighting info here. 

Exif Data: 1/200, f/8; 160mm; 250 ISO 


Use Perforated Hardboard as a Backdrop for Epic Portraits with Beams of Light

I have a couple large sheets of perforated hardboard that I picked up at the hardware store. I’ve been experimenting with how to modify light with them. The most effective way I’ve found is backlighting a subject with it. Then today I had the thought of adding smoke from a smoke machine. This would turn the pins of light into a radial of light shafts. I couldn’t wait for my next shoot to try it out so I thought my sons Halloween costume would work just as well. He wouldn’t stop staring at the main light, which turned into a happy accident as it gave him that heroic superman gaze.

Read more at http://www.petapixel.com/2012/10/26/use-perforated-hardboard-as-a-backdrop-for-epic-portraits-with-beams-of-light/#iw19Y14Ab2G0fJ3H.99 


Lighting Watches

Your goal, when lighting watches, is to illuminate the face, without getting glares from your strobe or from ambient light. This is a tricky task. The tools I am working with a a LumoPro LP160 strobe, silver umbrella and an LP621 mini-boom arm for my stand. The strobe is being triggered by a Radiopopper JRX remote.

As you can see above, I have a piece of cardboard, covered in black cloth, placed on a stool. The light source is about 4-5 feet above the watches. I then angled the watch faces at a 45 degree angle to the light source. I turned off the overhead lights, rather than cranking up the flash output to kill the ambient, in order to conserve battery life. However, if I had been shooting a watch with an illuminated display, the only way to capture that would be with a slow shutter speed, so there could be no other competing ambient light.

Exif Data: 1/200, f/8; 200mm; 200 ISO


As many of you know, I self-published RGLR: Run & Gun Lighting Resource, a lighting ebook, this past January. At the time I released it, I didn’t expect it to reach as many people as it already has. In the ten months since it has been released, it has been purchased in 48 countries on six continents. I am both in awe and encouraged by this. 

What you may not know is that Peach Pit has decided to re-release the book as two separate ebooks. The first, which will be released early 2014, will feature only one-light scenarios. Some of the scenarios included are from the first book, but there will be quite a few new ones as well. Later on, they publish a second book featuring lighting scenarios that employ 2-4 lights. 

Finally, if you haven’t checked out my book, for $10 you can get your own copy of RGLR here


Flash: Off or On Camera? That is the Question.

Both have their benefits and drawbacks. One camera flash is faster to set up and allows for more subject movement. This is ideal for street fashion, when you may be trespassing or blocking traffic and need to work quick. It also has a more paparazzo, raw feel to it, a la Terry Richardson. So when I am shooting a skater or hip hop brand, I often opt for this technique.

Off-camera flash is nice because of it’s dynamic quality. You can highlight a specific part of your subject and really get creative (especially when you start using colored gels and multiple strobes). But setup takes a bit longer, and is tough without an assistant there to manage the umbrellas and sandbags, etc. 

Above is an “A” and a “B” shot for T-Squad apparel. In shot “A” I opted for an off-camera flash. One of the models simply held the strobe just out of the frame to the left. It is a nice, dramatic image. But I think it comes off as a bit too dramatic for an image selling a tank top. In the “B” image, I opted to leave the flash on camera. I actually prefer this image. It feels more gritty and street, and thus more appropriate for a tank top line.

Exif Data in image “A”: 1/200, f/10; 75mm; 50 ISO; Flash zoomed to 85 and set at ¼ power.

Exif Data in image “B”: 1/200, f/5.6; 25mm; 50 ISO; Flash zoomed to 85 and set at ¼ power.


The Athletic Aesthetic

When you are shooting athletes and athletic gear, the rule of thumb is typically to show off their strength and rugged features. So you can go as hard as you like when it comes to environment and lighting. For these Saucony running shoes, I wanted to have a rugged terrain that didn’t distract too much from the product. I picked out a spot near some train tracks, where there was a large, flat and wide open rocky terrain. The issue was that the sun was out and almost directly overhead. So I would need to overpower the sun with my strobes. I decided to gang up two lights on one stand and shoot bare-bulb, directly overhead, to allow for a strong, focused output. I added one strobe behind the shoes as an accent light. 

The image looked pretty good straight out of the camera, but I decided to pump up the contrast and clarity in Photoshop and then desaturate the rocks from their brown color. One nice trick in boosting your contrast in Photoshop is to create a duplicate layer, desaturate it and overlay it. Then you can use a layer mask to paint back in some of the shoe color from the bottom layer.

The tools I am worked with: Three LumoPro LP160 strobes and an LP621 mini-boom arm for my stand. The strobe is being triggered by a Radiopopper JRX remote. The two main lights are mounted to one stand and there is one back light. They are all set to ½ power and zoomed to 105mm.

Exif Data: 1/200, f/13; 200mm; 50 ISO

Side Note: A documentary focusing on portait photographers, including yours truly, is currently on Kickstarter. Please consider supporting the project. Thanks!

Expose Yourself

Most of the time, my goal as a photographer is to erase any trace of myself from my images. My images are for my client’s use, so seeing my reflection or a light stand in the background is considered sloppy. But sometimes, tossing convention aside can allow for some great experimentation and results.

Previously I posted about a Reebok shoot I did several months ago. In that post I describe the direction that I was given by the production director. The selling point for these shoes are the soles. So I knew that once again I wanted light coming through from behind the shoe. But I didn’t want to recreate the previous image. I decided to see what would happen if I put the silver umbrella directly behind the shoe as a back light. The large silver surface, combined with the glass, created a really nice abstract environment for the shoe. I then added a cyan-gelled strobe underneath the glass and an accent light to the right of the shoe.

The tools I am worked with: Three LumoPro LP160 strobes and an LP621 mini-boom arm for my stand. The strobes were triggered by a Radiopopper JRX remote. 

Exif Data: 1/160, f/10; 200mm; 100 ISO

Side Note: A documentary focusing on portait photographers, including yours truly, is currently on Kickstarter. Please consider supporting the project. Thanks!

Using Colored Gels

You can a lot with a little. Most of these shots were done with an already-colored wall in the JackThreads building. The walls aren’t even especially vibrant to begin with. But once you start bouncing light off of them, especially colored light, you start to get real colorful real fast. 

If you take note of the captions under each photo, you can achieve completely different colors by adding colored gels to your background light. Thank you Color Theory 101! If you add red or magenta to a blue wall, you get purple. Add cyan to a red wall and get fuschia/pink. Add red to a yellow wall and get orange. Add yellow to an orange wall and get a vibrant gold. The only combinations that don’t work is when you add the complementary color gel to the background color. For example, don’t add green to a red wall or blue to a yellow sweep. These colors just get muddy and cancel out. 

Keep in mind how you are modifying your light and also how much light is pumping through your gels. The more hard your main light is, the more the background color washes out. Similarly, the more light you pump through the gels, the whiter the light is. So if you want saturation, use soft light and low outputs in your gelled strobes.

And as always, just keep experimenting!