The creative idea and setting a home made “studio” photoshoot.
It was one morning over the weekend, after waking up I decided to go and visit Calumet store (now Wex photo & video), near Euston station in central London – I love visiting this store. Also I needed a new boom arm, I had one from previous purchase I did through an eBay but it wasn’t very strong and reliable to hold one speedlite and the beauty dish. I won’t be going into too many details of my experience in the shop for well-known reasons (it’s like when my wife goes shopping) – by the way, as a side note,side note, I also picked up few clip clamps and a roll of the so necessary Gaffer Tape!
After the shopping I needed to take my wife to Nero coffee as she was getting very grumpy while we were in the shop, the same happens with me when she is doing her shopping and I have to wait; I belive it is a very well familiar situation for most men out there.
Anyway long story short, as soon as we reached home I started unpacking and fixing the new boom arm on one of my light stands – finally I had a proper boom arm for my lighting.
Now after putting everything together, as a true photographer, I went and engaged my wife to pose for me so I can play with my new toy. At first she wasn’t very happy, as she was doing some work, but I knew that this was going to change quickly.
The initial lighting setup
First, and only one light for the moment, I setup was a Canon 580 EX mounted on Interfit Strobies XS Bracket holder, the light modifier was Interfit Diffuser Beauty Dish (40cm) with the grid on as I wanted to keep the light spread under control, also I had a diffuser on my beauty dish (white cloth as the diffusers on the soft boxes – it helps further smooth the light).
Below I tried to create something like a lighting diagram – I hope you’ll be able to read it.
My very next step was to bring my model in front of the camera for some tests. I also like to point out that this is always the case with my wife when I’m asking her to stay in front of the camera so I can do some tests but as soon as she sees the first results she starts to feel very comfortable and even comes up with extra ideas about the session.
Ok so now I got my model seating in the couch, still doing her job on the laptop, and I’m ready to throw some light on her from my beauty dish (on the diagram below you can follow what is happening up to this moment).
And here is the actual result from this early stage of our strobist setup.
Camera setting are as follow:
At this stage I’ve got my shutter speed up to 1/125 (in combination with my choice of low ISO), which basically cuts any ambient light coming from the window ( as usual for London, the day was overcast and moody so not much light coming from the window anyway)
However, as photographers we always need to be prepared to face any challenges and constantly think what is wrong or how we can improve any given situation.
Up to this moment, I’m totally unhappy with how everything unfolds and my very next step is to pickup and add a fill light. So I went to the other room and brought a Coco ring flash adapter; I could of use an umbrella but I didn’t have much space around me, plus this was such a great opportunity to experiment and think out of the box. So the next step was adding the fill light.
And the setup now looks like on the lighting diagram below:
And here is the result with the ringflash adapter, just keep in mind that I was changing the position of my ring flash. I did few shots holding it in front of the lens but most of the time I had it as it is displayed on the diagram.
And again – an example of the results I was getting; on the image bellow you can see how the shadow on the left side of her face is starting to get much softer and also some light liking on the wall behind as result of using the second strobe.
Still nothing impressive up to this moment!
Now, I decided to start exploring what my ambient light may add to my set and the very next thing I did was to drag my shutter speed down to 1/15 and my ISO up to 800 (just keep in mind that when you are increasing the ISO you also need to reduce the output of your flashes, the shutter speed controls the ambient and the ISO affects both) check the diagram and the picture for the new update I introduced to the overall setup. And I’m really sorry for the messy room!
Ok, I totally had enough – it is still flat and somehow ordinary there isn’t contrast, there isn’t drama!
It is time for radical changes; from this point on first I started playing with the white balance (so far my WB was set to auto) trying different modes till I was happy with it (my final WB was set to fluorescent). Then I changed the position of the ring flash placing it behind my model, orientated towards the wall. The next step was, as I already setup my WB to something so weird, to colour balance my strobes so I can get the results I wanted.
After I added Full CTO colour gel to my main light and Blue one to my ring flash, which was acting as a background light, and because of the WB I chose – the ambient light, from the window, was giving me a slight touch of blue rim on the left side of my models face.
After quick change, my wife/model was already very interested in what I was doing, we continued with the final version of the lighting setup.
And this was the final touch to my lighting but I wanted to add something more to the mood of the images I was capturing. So, I started zooming out my lens while pressing the shutter, this is call zoom effect.
This effect was resulting in very nice aura of light around the model. Working this way is like cooking a dish, just adding ingredients and keep trying it until everything blend together in a very nice and pleasant manner.
And here is my final result, where I can say “Ok, I’m happy whit what I managed to achieve so far”.
Looking at the final images, something inspired me to call them “My Domestic Mona Lisa”
What have I done here?
Well, for certain nothing so spectacular but the point is that I didn’t stop until I achieved something much better than with what I started. Moving the lights around or adding more lights, fill free to do and use anything that will improve the overall look of your photographs, don’t just stop up to the point where your object is just lit by a your strobe. Keep pushing and exploring because in such domestic environment we do have enough time to do all of this as compared to one of these paid assignment were the time schedule is very intense and short.
So the bottom line here is – play with your strobes from time to time, it could be very good exercise helping you to develop better understanding and intuition of how to use any lights in any situations.
Thank you very much for stooping by and reading my photography blog!
I really hope that you find the information I’m sharing helpful and if you have any questions or enquirers do not hesitated to contact me or post a comment below.