Sunday, January 17, 2010

365/17 Into the light

In the Light

"There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it."

Edith Wharton

I love flash. I love flash in the same way that someone enjoys a good Tawny Port. Port is nothing you down in a single swallow. You have to let it sit and breathe. You must let it work it's magic on you, wrap you in it's warmth and subdue you. Flash does the same for me.

The problem with flash, like any other source of light, is that you have to control it or it spreads everywhere like a bad infection, going places you absolutely don't want it, lingering where it's not needed, and invading where it absolutely shouldn't be. Herein lies the need for light control. Now, there's a bazillion different tools out there that you can use to control light. Softboxes, umbrellas, tape, dead bodies, gobos, snoots. Whatever you have handy, really. I've seen light shaping tools made from bed sheets and isopropyl alcohol bottles. Empty, of course.

In this particular case, I wanted something more directional than an umbrella. I recently picked up a Lastolite Ezybox to have something in my gear box that could contain the light in one direction. I sort of like it. I'm still mixed on it. I think, for the locations I shoot, it tends to be too big still, even at 15" on a side. The closer I can get the light to my subject, the less power I need to light it. And therefore, the less bleed into the rest of the environment I'll get. There's still just a bit too much spread of light for my tastes with this box, but I suspect I'll get used to it once I shoot more with it.


I've been playing with two light setups recently. Main light from my softbox and a secondary snooted light to provide some key detail. I didn't use it in this particular photo because I'm finding that the light quality coming from the snooted flash just doesn't match my expectations when applied to skin. It's too harsh, which means I'm not softening it up enough. There's a lack of evenness to it that I get with the softbox. The first time I tried this earlier in the week, I thought it was caused by the regular aluminum foil I used to make the snoot. Very reflective. So, this time, I tried with black wrap and still got the same sort of light (only, minimally more subdued).

So, I guess I still get to play with this and figure out where I'm going wrong. I'm sure that once it clicks, I'll be much more willing to play with it and see where it leads me.

This photo must really be seen in a larger format to take in all the detail from the light as it wraps around my model and the rope. Please check it out on black in a larger size. I don't normally shot the lighting equipment in with the model, but for this one, I really liked the contrast of the stark white light source with the shape and texture of the rest of the scene.


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how I feel about the softbox in the frame. I think it pulls my eye way too much, but having that square of light is also kind of interesting.

Travis Campbell said...

Yeah, I can see that. I have a vertical version of this that has the softbox completely out of the frame. I think it creates too much negative space, honestly. I need to play with some of the other versions of this photo and see how it works zoomed in to have her fill the frame.