Archive for the 'Advanced Techniques' Category


Color correction

Gelling the strobe seemed to go OK and I got the results I was after.

The ambient meter reading was f2.8 @ 1/30 (ISO 200). I wanted the subject to stand out just brighter than the background so I exposed at f4 @ 1/60. This two-stop difference made the subject stand out and darkened a distracting background without eliminating it entirely. I gelled orange (1/2 CTO I think) for the existing fluorescent (for some reason they looked orangish – not green! New fangled fluorescents!).

The color matching in the images from the flash, either directly pointed at her or from the fill card behind the flash and the flash bouncing up, look pretty dead on to my eye.

She is slightly more orange in the select I chose because I bounced the flash off a slightly orange, tiled wall. This added more orange to her. I don’t mind it so much because she is working with an open flame and the orange cast can be attributed to the flame. Visually and cognitively I think it makes intuitive sense. Everyone knows what people lit by the light of flames look like – a little orangish. I think if this were a neutral color tone that may be more off putting.

(Forgive the poor drawing skills – there is a reason I'm a photographer)

I bounced the flash because I wanted to change the quality of the light – make it softer and coming from a different direction.

I didn’t dial the flash power up or down. Just used it straight.

I also custom white balanced with the strobe and shot my take on the custom white balance setting.

It seems to be pretty damn tough to find green-cast true fluorescents anymore or to find any businesses or public places that are lighting with tungsten.

My select:

Lauren Hibler, a senior in biochemistry at the University of Missouri, Columbia, makes glass beads Wednesday in the university's Craft Studio. Hibler mentioned a stressful week after having had three exams in the previous days. "I needed to do this," said Hibler.


The Greening of the Water Bottle

I had the metal portion of the assignment. I based my concept on the editorial idea that stainless steel water bottles are becoming increasingly popular because they have less environmental impact than disposable plastic water bottles. They also have the added benefit of not containing bisphenol-a (BPA) a chemical added to some plastics that may have long-term health consequences. This has been a real trend story in the past couple years. New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Time magazine have all done stories on the issue, among countless other publications.

I decided to play up the environmental aspect in the photo.

I wanted to challenge myself with a round object but was lenient in that it was not a mirror polished surface on the metal. The bottle is brushed stainless steel for the finish so it would only reflect values instead of pure reflections.

Since it was round I immediately thought I would need a tent to light it properly. Here is my set.

My set with a sheet tent built all around it and the lighting set to illuminate the tent.

This however blew out the green gelled backlight I had. I was trying to create a vibrant green background/field and light the clear plastic bottles at the same time behind the stainless steel water bottle. The results:

After an hour and a half of adjusting power ratios and tweaking the light modifiers I couldn’t get the right combination of what I wanted in the image. I would either get good looking metal (left), muddy metal and a poor background (center) or a decent mix of both good metal and a weak green background (right). The image on the right was the best I could create from that set up.

Then with about 15 minutes left in my time slot I figured I’d take Rita’s suggestion and just try to “light it to make it come alive.” I decided to chuck the whole set and cross light it instead.

This kept the light off the gelled “background” field and gave me the green I wanted. The bottles and gel defined the shape of the stainless steel bottle and the cross lighting made enough of a highlight for the material to read as metal. I added a reflector card to give it some more white reflection and more of a three-dimensional look.

I had about a 20 degree spot grid to the left of the overhead camera position. A snoot to the right with my partner Jon Steffens holding a gobo on the bottom half to keep the light off the plastic bottles and a 30 degree spot grid gelled with blue/yellow (makes green, remember) on the bottom. Lindsay was gracious enough to hold the reflector card. Much thanks to Lindsay and Erin Schwartz for letting me overlap into their timeslot by about 15 minutes.

Here is the set:

And the final image:

Consumers are increasingly turning to stainless steel water bottles as a means to lessen the environmental impact of disposable plastic water bottles. The stainless steel bottles also have the added benefit of being free of bisphenol-a (BPA) plastics which have been linked in studies to long-term changes in animals who were exposed to the chemical.


Studio Portrait Lighting

I was going for a film noir look with this portrait. Hard light, tightly controlled to convey mystery and give the image a darker more ominous tone in a low-key image. Same caption for all three images.


If John Steffens had his dream job he would be directing and producing films in the film noir style of movie making and cites modern directors like Quentin Tarantino as inspirations, among others. Steffens has a bachelors degree in computer video and imaging from Cogwell Polytechnical College in California and currently works an an internet administrator for the College of Education at the University of Missouri, Columbia.

June 2018
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