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Studio, Portrait, Still Life, Lighting Equipment and Technique Continuous and Strobe Lighting. (The Sun is considered continuous!) Great ideas are really ten a penny! Technique in setting up the subject is, of course, essential. However, the ability to bring out form, texture, tonality and color is where the skill in lighting provides all the keys to engraving one's ideas on the delivered picture.

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Old July 1st, 2009, 10:47 AM
Benjamin Kanarek Benjamin Kanarek is offline
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Lightbulb Continuous vs Flash Lighting and Everything in Between. A Multipart Exercise!

Continuous vs Flash Lighting and Everything in Between. Part 1

Light is a very fickle entity. Why do I say that? Because light can play many tricks on us and and is often elusive in it's etherial state. It has many frequencies and understanding those wave lengths might help us understand the grand palette of nuances available that we can play with. Now to add to the different color temperatures (frequency) we have another element that is a very important part of the equation and that is duration. Light is always present, even in the darkest of nights. That is where duration or time comes in to play.

I love playing with light, especially when I can compose with it, rather than nature imposing it on to my environment. Not that I do not love natural light and all that can be accomplished with it, but I believe my forte is creating light from scratch and designing my work with brush strokes, splats, washes and fine details.

I also love to mix and match different frequencies (color temperatures), durations and light sources.

We need to start by attempting to grasp how light from different sources, durations, color temperatures and light sources have an effect on your final images. "Light is a very powerful spice and should be used sparingly." Is my motto. Use it sparingly and it can bring some very powerful elements to light, (no pun intended) in to your imagery. Now when I say sparingly, I don't necessarily mean that you cannot splash it all over the place, especially if that is your intent. Of course you may, but be sure you know why and what the outcome will be.

Your camera can capture a multiplicity of frequencies and nuances. What the camera does not know is what you the "Composer" is attempting to accomplish and thus, generally can only deliver predictable results.

So to end this Part 1 of this theme, I suggest you start to look at light of all sources and see how those sources are intermingling with the environment. In the meanwhile, I suggest you prepare a couple of lamps with 60 watt light bulbs, a single flash unit, a few cardboard squares of about 35cm, some white paper, black paper and some aluminum foil. You may however imagine anything you wish, until the next episode.

http://www.benjaminkanarekblog.com/?p=464

Last edited by Asher Kelman; July 4th, 2009 at 12:04 PM.
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Old July 1st, 2009, 03:30 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Default Playing with light! Adding detail and splashes of light!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Kanarek View Post
I love playing with light, especially when I can compose with it, rather than nature imposing it on to my environment. Not that I do not love natural light and all that can be accomplished with it, but I believe my forte is creating light from scratch and designing my work with brush strokes, splats, washes and fine details.

I also love to mix and match different frequencies (color temperatures), durations and light sources.
I like this idea. Right now I'm making a large series of portraits of musicians and dancers. So far mostly classical musicians posed and also playing real music from their repertoire. That way I can get some essence of who they are. My lighting consists of main and a key light, just canon flashes, triggered from the camera and I have made a white reflective womb so that the light on their faces and entire body is entirely pleasing. I keep the fluorescent lights on above for the hair and have in addition window light from the side of the high main light. Right now, I've become interested in adding nuance to this wonderful basic light field. Your exercises to follow are therefore timely!

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Originally Posted by Benjamin Kanarek View Post
So to end this Part 1 of this theme, I suggest you start to look at light of all sources and see how those sources are intermingling with the environment. In the meanwhile, I suggest you prepare a couple of lamps with 60 watt light bulbs, a single flash unit, a few cardboard squares of about 35cm, some white paper, black paper and some aluminum foil. You may however imagine anything you wish, until the next episode.

http://www.benjaminkanarekblog.com/?p=464
This is exciting. Thanks so much!

Asher
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  #3  
Old July 3rd, 2009, 12:23 AM
Benjamin Kanarek Benjamin Kanarek is offline
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Default Continuous vs Flash Lighting and Everything in Between...Part 2

Continuous vs Flash Lighting and Everything in Between...Part 2

In Part 1, I asked that you prepare a couple of 60 watt light bulbs a flash (off camera is preferable) some modifiers i.e. cardboard squares, black paper, and aluminum foil. I will now add a few more elements to this and that is a couple of empty cans, (make sure you open both ends). You can use different sizes. The more the merrier. A couple of metal coat hangers that you usually get from the dry cleaners. a few clothes clips for hanging out clothes to dry, or better yet a few clamps. Any stand that you have lying around as well. A few would be better.
Some construction gloves (NOT RUBBER) light bulbs are hot! Oh we don't want to forget the box cutter and gaffers tape.

Now the reason for these elements have more to do with experimenting with the absence or abundance of light that will be created by you during this first preliminary exercise.

Here is where the fun begins. You must please understand, that there are NO hard fast rules about lighting and the more open you are to experimentation, the more original your set up will become.

Here goes. You find a way to clamp your lamp to a stand. You might consider a cheap lamp with the standard metal shade like one of those old reading lamps for example. Or one of those clip on types. NOT PLASTIC PLEASE!!!

Take a couple of those metal hangers and force the shape in to a square, leaving the rounded part to be used to attach to a stand. You may need to adjust this segment of the hanger accordingly. Tape the white paper to the hanger. The hanger acts as the skeleton support for the paper. You will be using this paper as either a reflector or to shoot your light through it. I suggest find different types of paper as well. Some more transparent than others. Now it is time to prepare the black sheets of paper. It can be cardboard the larger the better. Find a way to support these sheets to a stand. You might build a frame out of a wire hanger or "What Ever..."

If any of you have a light/flash meter, that might also be useful, but not imperative. I suggest that you are in an environment, where you can darken or partially darken the space you are in. It can be done in a space that is exposed to daylight, but it is more problematic as highlighted by the Steve Jacob article found HERE. http://www.benjaminkanarekblog.com/?p=103

Now that you have all of these elements you might ask, "What next?..." You can do one of two things at this point. You can use your imagination, or wait for Part 3.

I would love that you do the later, but that is your choice.

Have Fun!

http://www.benjaminkanarekblog.com/?p=485
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Old July 3rd, 2009, 12:33 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Hi Ben,

I have become a daily reader of your blog since you've started, thanks for sharing all that with us. This post of yours is very valuable and I expect it will be an eye opener to many.

Just a request from my side though. I think it would help those who are not native English speakers immensely if you could kindly illustrate the described "props and equipment" (e.g. by posting a picture of them). Reading these instructions and understanding them could be a tough job for those who are not that good in English. Thanks again.

Cheers,
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Old July 4th, 2009, 03:15 AM
Benjamin Kanarek Benjamin Kanarek is offline
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Default Continuous vs Flash Lighting and Everything in Between Part 3

Now that you have put together some of the tools required for this first exercise, let’s do the following. Take one of the tin cans and slightly flatten one end of it so it looks more like a cats eye and place the rounded side of it over the head of the flash, making sure you don’t obscure the sensor. We can now name this coke can or what ever a “Snoot”. The longer this “Snoot” the more concentrated and pointed the light will be in a given area that you choose. Now there is a problem here. As there is no pilot light, it will be difficult to see where it is hitting. You can do a couple of things here. My favorite is, I squint my eyes and do a test flash. By squinting I can see where the flash is hitting with greater accuracy. The other option is by taking several test shots and reviewing where the light is directed. The closer to the subject the more concentrated your light will be. Find someone who would like to sit as your subject. If you wish to do a still life that will also work. Oh, one thing, I prefer that the flash is off camera and attached via a synch cable to your camera or to a synch cable adapter that will attach to the hot shoe of your camera. You will find a way of attaching the flash to one of your stands.

If you have a flash/light meter take a reading of the flash output. 1/4 power might be a good starting point, placing the flash head about 1.5 to 2 meters from the subject. If you don’t have a meter. Set up your camera in “M” mode and find a starting point of let’s say, f5.6 at 1/30 second at 100 iso. If it is too bright adjust accordingly i.e f8.0 etc. One more thing. If your snoot is casting too much light, you can always place another tin can over the can being used to make it longer. You now have the primary light. We will discuss this further in a moment. Do you have a plant or a cool sculpture or cool object lying around? This will be your secondary layer in the image. Take one of your 60-100 watt light bulb with metal clip and place another “Snoot” over it, before turning on of course. This is where the “Construction Gloves” come in to play. I don’t want you burning yourself. Once the “Snoot” has been well placed over the light and it should be at least 20 cm long (8″), place the plant or object out of the planned crop of the image i.e. to the left or right of where the subject is, but NOT seen in the view finder. Aim the light at the plant or object and cast a shadow on to the back wall. Experiment with where you wish to cast the shadow. Remember those black cardboard sheets we talked about? You will want two for this exercise. Place one on either side of your subject, but out of view in your view finder. We can call these “Scrim’s”. These will block the flash light from hitting the background and ruining the effect of the shadow cast by the secondary light.

Now let’s get back to the principal light i.e. the flash head. You might want to light the subject selectively by moving the flash closer to illuminate the upper half of the body and let it fall off to the lower half. It’s your choice. Now that you have set up the two lights, it is time to do some metering. In “M3 mode read what you are getting on the secondary object. Let’s say it is f5.6 at 1/15th of a second. Now read the wall where the secondary light is hitting. Don’t read the shadow! This might be f2.0 at 1/15th of a second. Now that you have this info, it is time to adjust the principal flash hitting the main subject. This becomes a creative decision. Why, because it now becomes a proportionate lighting exercise where the more light that hits the main subject, the darker the background. Let’s try f8.0 on the subject (this is just a starting point). Ok, you have f2.0 on the back wall, f5.6 on the object casting the shadow and f8.0 on the subject. Set your shutter speed at 1/15th of a second at f8.0 and start to take some test images. If the background is too dark for your taste, reduce the flash output to f5.6 etc… You can try 1/4 to 1/60th of a second and everything in between.

Play with this for a while until you are satisfied with the outcome.

I will go further in Part 4

http://www.benjaminkanarekblog.com/?p=499
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Old July 5th, 2009, 06:11 AM
Benjamin Kanarek Benjamin Kanarek is offline
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Here is the link to an illustration:

http://www.pbase.com/benjikan/image/114628094
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Old July 5th, 2009, 06:13 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Kanarek View Post
Here is the link to an illustration:

http://www.pbase.com/benjikan/image/114628094
Hi Ben,

I cannot say enough how much I appreciate you doing this for those who are not very good in English. It will help a lot. Thanks.
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Old July 6th, 2009, 03:54 PM
Benjamin Kanarek Benjamin Kanarek is offline
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Default Continuous vs Flash Lighting and Everything in Between…Part 4

Continuous vs Flash Lighting and Everything in Between…Part 4

Now that you have your light set up for the model and the reflection of the object on the back ground, it is time to determine the ambiance your wish to create. If you are looking for a more "Cinema Noir" look you may wish to isolate the foreground from the background by increasing the out put of the flash on the subject and letting the background go darker by another 1 to 2 stops. But this may also pose other problems that I call "light bleed". The spread of light throughout the space by virtue of light bouncing off of surfaces around the space. What I suggest you do here might be the following. Take some aluminum foil and form it in to a conical shape to reduce the size of the area that the light will cover. If you have thin sheet metal, this might prove to be more controllable, as you can adjust the circumference of the opening to your taste. Another approach is to take a piece of aluminum foil and place it on the front of the can facing the model and poke 10-20 pen "Bic" pen width holes in to it to produce "specular" light. This will of course reduce the flash output considerable and as a result you may wish to augment the shutter speed to compensate the how this will effect the proportion between the foreground and background.

It is very important that you do not spill too much light on to the back ground, as it will negate much of the shadow produced by the background light being cast on the wall. For this I suggest several possibilities. One, is to raise the light about three feet above the subject and shooting down at around 60 degrees. This may work well, if the wall is at least 5 meters behind the subject. I love side lighting and although not always becoming to the model, it does add a very mysterious feel to the image and gives the background more drama, as there is very little light bleed from the principal light source. You may wish to introduce a lamp in to the composition to act as the "Faux" source of the light casting the shadow on to the wall. Very Hitchcock looking.

One of the most important parts of a shoot is keeping open to the possibilities when shooting a subject. Now even though you set up the lights to be in a certain position, based on the fact that you will be shooting from the opposing position, I would also suggest considering another approach as well, which I will discuss in the next segment of this series.

I will see you for part 5 shortly. Got to prepare for two major shoots, so pardon this short episode.

http://www.benjaminkanarekblog.com/?p=542
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Old July 8th, 2009, 10:04 PM
Benjamin Kanarek Benjamin Kanarek is offline
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Default Continuous vs Flash Lighting and Everything in Between Pt 5

Continuous vs Flash Lighting and Everything in Between Pt 5

In Part 4,we were left facing the subject, we had tested the light and had to determine the difference between the foreground and background intensity. That was a very personal decision. You also had to decide how much of the principal subject was going to be lit.

Now that you have done your test shots and are satisfied with how it looks, you can commence shooting with this very simple lighting set up. The first thing to consider is, how will the focal length change the overall look of the image and to this end I highly recommend using a wide to medium telephoto zoom. The reason I say this is that the closer you come in to the image the less intense the contrast will appear between the foreground and the background. It is for this reason, that I want you to experiment with a 16,17,18 to 45,50,70 lens. This is much more dramatic than you can imagine using this lighting technique.

In the last segment I also mentioned considering a different approach and this has been one of the very seminal moments of illumination for me in my 25+ years in photography and that is "Always break away from your assumed position and orientation, without changing the lighting of the principal person or object..." This approach has always given me some of my best images. In other words, when you have set up the lights for a particular orientation i.e. you are here and she is there, start to move away from that position and start to rotate around the subject having them follow you with a slight change of the head position and eye orientation, then gradually having them follow your movement or moving against your movement. Lay on the floor, or stand up on a cube, or come in really really tight or pull back really far and place her at the bottom right quadrant of the image, taking up only 20 percent of the surface area.

As you start to do this you may find that there might be some additional lighting that you wish to introduce, especially in very wide angle shots for this scenario.

We shall get in to more detail in Part 6

http://www.benjaminkanarekblog.com/?p=572
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Old July 8th, 2009, 10:13 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Kanarek View Post
"Always break away from your assumed position and orientation, without changing the lighting of the principal person or object..." This approach has always given me some of my best images. In other words, when you have set up the lights for a particular orientation i.e. you are here and she is there, start to move away from that position and start to rotate around the subject having them follow you with a slight change of the head position and eye orientation, then gradually having them follow your movement or moving against your movement. Lay on the floor, or stand up on a cube, or come in really really tight or pull back really far and place her at the bottom right quadrant of the image, taking up only 20 percent of the surface area.
Amazingly, Ben, this is what I do in my tiny studio. I'm photographing very talented conservatory students, violin, cello, base, trumpet, bassoon, piano etc. First my lights are set up for the subject on white seamless and then when I've taken the shots as planned the juices start flowing. Then I change my position, rotating around the subject like a predator, with the gymnastics from lying on the floor, climbing on chairs or a piano (will get a ladder) or going out though the door and using a long lens I never planned for.

During this time, I free up the model's pose and give nuanced instrcutions, v small but liberated from what I had imagined before, just playing of that person's figure and vibe.

Now, where I'm interested is how to benefit from adding new light when one does this, but without losing the pace and magic of the moment. I'm looking to see how you use light and color splashes or small spots, so I'm really interested in learning how you do this next stage. This is so valuable!

Thanks so much for your amazing generosity in sharing so much with us.

Asher
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  #11  
Old July 12th, 2009, 04:27 AM
Benjamin Kanarek Benjamin Kanarek is offline
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Default Continuous vs Flash Lighting and Everything in Between Part 6

Continuous vs Flash Lighting and Everything in Between…Part 6



Benjamin Kanarek Lit for Contrasting Elements

In this section, we will discuss the importance of scale. In the last sentence of Part 5 I said "that there might be some additional lighting that you wish to introduce, especially in very wide angle shots for this scenario." What I mean by that is, in order for a viewer to discern changes in contrast, highlight and shadow in an image there must be sufficient information to do so. As a result you must consider this when lighting the scene. A little light goes a long way when next to a very dark and shadowy segment of an image. Contrasting elements make an image interesting and to this end I suggest you either add or remove modifiers selectively to make the image more varied and interesting. As you come in closer to the model or object you are shooting, all of the surrounding elements become obscured thus rendering a totally different ambiance to the image. If you are going to come in close and still wish to capture the drama of a pulled back photo, you will have to re-light the image for that composition.

This is where much smaller modifiers come in to play. I suggest you cut some cardboard squares of around 3, 6 and 9 inches. These modifiers can be white satin or brilliant paper. As in a Still Life image you can now bounce the light off of the flash in to sections of the image that fall with in the framing you have decided on. These can be held by an assistant or attached to stands.

Start to take test images and adjust for your desired outcome. Move the reflectors closer for less coverage and further back for more. I also suggest playing with the output of the flash to view the differences between the fore and background ratio.

You may also consider bouncing light off of the tungsten light bulbs. If you are concerned about the colour balance, I suggest purchasing a sheet of "Full Blue" gelatine and cut a small square to cover the light bulb. Make sure you attach it t least three inches from the bulb to avoid burning the gelatine. If you do this you will loose about a stop of light. In this case augment the power of the bulb to about 100-150 watts.

In Part 7, I will discuss a more complex lighting set up for the same setting.

http://www.benjaminkanarekblog.com/?p=617

http://www.pbase.com/benjikan/image/78978007

Last edited by Asher Kelman; July 12th, 2009 at 08:20 AM.
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Old July 14th, 2009, 02:41 AM
Benjamin Kanarek Benjamin Kanarek is offline
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Default Continuous vs Flash Lighting and Everything in Between…Part 7

Continuous vs Flash Lighting and Everything in Between…Part 7

In Part 6

I stated that I would discuss a more complex set up of the same setting. When using your standard flash head, i.e. (those that usually are fixed to the hot shoe), they never come with a pilot or modeling light. What I suggest you consider here is placing a 60-100 watt light bulb directly above or below your flash unit to mirror the direction of the flash you will be using. What I also suggest is that you frame that pilot light in the same manner as you did with your flash. For example if you built a "Snoot" for your flash our of an elongated tin can you could mirror that on on your pilot light. The ideal situation would be to place your flash slightly behind the pilot light bulb and share the same snoot. This would then cast only one shadow. However, as the light bulb can be very hot, this must cause damage to the flash unit. You might consider using cold lamps that generate very little heat by comparison, thus allowing you to apply this configuration.

I would like to introduce another element that can be used quite creatively and that is what is called "Barn Doors". "Barn Doors" look just like what you might think and that is two small perhaps black cardboard or metal rectangular shaped modifiers around 6-9 inches wide by 8-12 inches long that frame the flash or tungsten light unit allowing you to frame the light coming of of your lighting source. The more you close these barn doors the tighter the light becomes on the subject you are lighting. It is ideal that you find a way to pivot these panels. This will make it a lot easier to manipulate. You can add two more barn doors horizontally, allowing you to create a horizontal and vertical window of light. You may wish to use several of these units to create some very interesting lighting landscape in your composition. If the light is too harsh, you may also add a diffuser to soften the light coming from your source.

I hope you have found this mini series helpful and hope it gave you the inspiration to experiment and to break with convention. When it comes to lighting, the sky is the limit.

In Part 8, I will discuss a totally new lighting set up.

http://www.benjaminkanarekblog.com/?p=652
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