Halloween shoot - C&C please

Discussion in 'People Photography' started by adamhiram, Oct 3, 2019.

  1. adamhiram

    adamhiram No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    It’s almost Halloween again, which means it’s time to get the kiddo excited about dressing up as his favorite superhero so I can convince him to pose for some fun photos.

    For this shoot, I wanted to try some new techniques in the studio and challenge myself technically. Some parts came together just as I envisioned, while others didn’t quite come out as expected.

    I would love some feedback on how these look overall, what you think I did right, and any potential areas of improvement.

    • Key light: I wanted almost split lighting with deep shadows for a more dramatic look. Light is positioned pretty far off to the right and slightly above the subject. I opted for a large 12”x56” gridded strip box to light the full body while controlling spill. A big reason I used a strip box was to control the specular highlights on the glossy mask, which ironically he didn’t want to wear, but the long sleek lines looked a lot better than those from a regular soft box or octobox.
    • Background: I picked up a wider roll of fashion gray seamless paper (86”) to give a bit more room to work with for a full body shot. This was immensely helpful when working with a subject who moves around a lot. Background light is a gelled bare speedlight inside of a homemade gobo to create the texture on the background. I envisioned this being kind of like what you might see in a superhero comicbook to compliment the “hero” pose.
    • Rim light: I added a rim light behind the subject and to the left of the backdrop to create a little extra background separation. This is a speedlight shot through a 45 degree grid, and flagged to prevent flare in the camera lens.
    • Platform: I wanted more of a “hero” pose looking upwards, so getting him up a little higher on a platform (homemade apple crate from a prior shoot) helped. It also gave me a place to hide the background light and gobo behind it, and eliminated the need to do something with the floor for a full body shot.
    • Camera position: This was shot from ground level about 10’ away, looking up at the subject. My original plan was to use an ultra-wide angle lens for a more exaggerated look, until I realized just how much of the background would be included. Shot in landscape orientation, mostly for ergonomic reasons, then cropped to portrait when applicable.

    Shot on a D500 with AF-S 35mm f/1.8 lens
    35mm, 1/250s, f/4, ISO 400

    Constructive feedback is much appreciated!

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  2. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Wow, Adam you are raising the creative bar again. I love your approach, and of course the kiddo! Number 1 for pose, number 2 for face for me.

    The only negative I see, which may be more personal choice, is lighting placement. I understand the thought process, but split lighting to me is highlight vs shadow, not highlight, shadow, highlight. In the first, second and last the kicker is creating highlight in an area that to me should be the darkest shadow. Moving it to the other side would still give you delineation from the background but maintain uniformity of light/dark.

    That gobo idea may get ripped off in one of my future shoots. It's excellent! I think there may be limitations on the spread which is why in the last shot it seemed to look the best, but still it's an idea that needs to be fully explored.
     
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  3. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    fantastic!
     
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  4. DaPOPO

    DaPOPO No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Holy cow Photoman!!!!! Those pictures in the Photocave came out wonderful!!!! I think the lighting came out great, I really love the gobo idea and the gold look is excellent with the red costume!!!
     
  5. CherylL

    CherylL TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Wonderful! Thanks for sharing your set up.
     
  6. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    These are really quite fun! I like the way you have gelled the background. I think your background looks extremely good. You have created what will someday become treasured family photos.
     
  7. adamhiram

    adamhiram No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thank you all for the kind words! It came out a little different than planned, but I was still pretty happy with the outcome. Hopefully I can get enough cooperation to get a few more poses before he loses interest!

    For reference, the inspiration came from here, and the idea for the gobo came from here.

    One thing I still struggle with is rim lighting. As @smoke665 observed, I wound up with some bright highlights on the shadow side of the subject's face. I'm not sure if I just had my rim light too bright, or if I need to change the modifier or position. I wasn't able to place it directly behind the subject without the nightstand showing in the photo, placing it on the ground behind him firing upward created too much uplighting and flare between the legs, and with a fill body shot, there wasn't room to put it on a boom from up above. Is there a better position I could have placed the rim light? Could I have used a different modifier for more subtle rim lighting without the bright highlights on the face? Any advice would be greatly appreciated, both for this shoot and for future reference. Thanks!
     
  8. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Overall, well done, sir! Great set, and that gobo is fantastic. I'm sure absolutely no one will steal that idea! :lol: My only minor niggle is the lighting on his face; while these are portraits, I don't think traditional portrait lighting is necessarily optimal; I would like to see less shadow on his face and torso.
     
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  9. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    It depends on how much rim lighting I want but I use either a snoot with grid or a 7" reflector with grid. The biggest issue I think is it's to far to the shadow side. I use a boom behind, above and more to the key side. Usually metered to match the key or slightly under. With lights it's important to visualize where the light is coming from, unexplained light sticks out.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2019
  10. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    There is an unusual paradox rears its ugly head in room lighting situations. When a light is glancing off of a subject from let's say the noon or 11 or 10 angle in relation to the lens axis, the light becomes extremely harsh and specular, and an incident light meter reading is actually inaccurate and it is often best to stop down 1 to 1.5 steps below what the meter indicates. If, however, the rim light originates from the 9 or 8 or 7 o clock points, then the meter reading is more accurate, and the light looks less specular. This is one of the strange points that not many people are aware of. Secondarily, your rim light source is actually a very small source, a gridded Speedlight, which is a very small-- in effect a Point light source which is many times smaller than your key light.

    If in the future you wish to have a better-looking and more subtle Rim lighting effect then it would be smart to use a much bigger light, such as a 20inch x 20in softbox, or at least an 11 in metal reflector with grid and possibly one layer of frosted mylar diffusion in front of the grid.

    If you work out the square inch area of the lights you will see that you are operating with a rim light that is probably 3.5 square inches and your softbox is many times greater in area. What you are seeing is both a function of angle of incidence of light, and also a very clear size difference. The small Speedlight cast extremely hard light on your son and your key light was much much softer due to its diffusion and also due to its sheer physical size.

    I myself am a big fan of an 11.5 in 50 degree reflector fitted with a 20 degree honeycomb grid , and one or two or three layers of Speedotron brand Snap-on mylar diffusion disc material. When used with an umbrella or umbrella box or small softbox as the main light this reflector is large enough to give a very subtle rim lighting effect when angled in from around the 11 o'clock position from behind the subject.

    There are other types of rim lighting modifier that could be used, such as a small softbox, or a Speedlight or of the light that is bounced off of a reflector or other object.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2019
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  11. adamhiram

    adamhiram No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thank you - I think I agree, and I will give it a try with the key light a bit more on-axis. I based the original positioning on controlling the reflections in the mask, but that's kind of a moot point if he doesn't wear it.

    This is an interesting point, and one where I have seen a lot of contradictory recommendations. Placing the rim light on the same side as the key light makes for a more natural look, since that's where you would expect the light to be coming from. However placing the rim light opposite the key light is more useful for background separation on the darker shadow side, as is explained here. I think the more important aspect is that's it's just too bright and specular.

    Great point - I usually use my strip box as a rim light with slightly better results, or at least less specular highlights on the subject. I have a 32" square soft box with a grid I may try swapping in for the rim light. I think it might make sense to mask off half of it to make it into a 16x32 strip, since I don't really need something that wide here.

    Thank you all for the great feedback, I am excited to make some subtle changes and see if it improves things, or at least gain some new knowledge and insight!
     
  12. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Yes there are contradictions, but (there's always a but LOL) here again it depends on the look. In your OP you said " wanted almost split lighting with deep shadows for a more dramatic look". I tend to follow the Hollywood version where the shadow side fades into blackness. I've seen various separation tried on the shadow side but they seem off, or counterintuitive to the reason for the lighting style in the first place, IMO. At the very most you only want a thin line and actually with your background I'm not sure you need separation anyhow.

    Also with the size of the modifier, you face the same problem as I do with my Lilbit, a small light covers a lot of area when they're only 4' tall. Lastly no matter how carefully you set up your lights, they are like little hurricanes, changing direction without warning.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019

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