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Lighting with Flash: Capturing a Dancer in Motion

Setting up for a portrait


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Lighting with Flash: Capturing a Dancer in Motion

with David Hobby

Video: Setting up for a portrait

A really, really, really useful thing. This is a Botero 5X7. It's white on one side, or at least it used to be. And it's black on the other side. So I can use this as a subtractive fill or an additive fill or a white backdrop. Not really anymore. Or certainly a black backdrop. So that's what we are going to use it right now. So this isn't totally black, but you've got to remember that we are not going to be pointing lights at it. So it's going to go black very fast. We may need to gobo off the raw spill from this flash that will be coming in over the top of her. But everything is going to be coming from the back that's going to give accents. So let's see.

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Lighting with Flash: Capturing a Dancer in Motion
1h 38m Appropriate for all May 17, 2013

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this installment of the Lighting with Flash series, photographer and Strobist.com publisher David Hobby demonstrates using strobes to freeze action while capturing the strength and grace of a dancer in motion. After working through the lighting challenges of a dance studio, David sets up a white, seamless background and shoots some test shots, adjusting the flash units to create a white "blow-away" background that will enable the photo to be easily composited. Next, he photographs the dancer, working with her to capture a relaxed expression as she leaps and strikes various poses. After the action shots, David lights and shoots a portrait.

Topics include:
  • Assessing a space and setting up a background
  • Lighting a background to create a "blow-away white"
  • Working with umbrellas and ring light adaptors
  • Lighting to show musculature and form
Subjects:
Photography Cameras + Gear Flash Photography Lighting
Author:
David Hobby

Setting up for a portrait

A really, really, really useful thing. This is a Botero 5X7. It's white on one side, or at least it used to be. And it's black on the other side. So I can use this as a subtractive fill or an additive fill or a white backdrop. Not really anymore. Or certainly a black backdrop. So that's what we are going to use it right now. So this isn't totally black, but you've got to remember that we are not going to be pointing lights at it. So it's going to go black very fast. We may need to gobo off the raw spill from this flash that will be coming in over the top of her. But everything is going to be coming from the back that's going to give accents. So let's see.

Remember, I said similar we are using Shorty snoots as gobos. So now I am just going to literally wrap them up and use them as snoots. This is to keep this light going in just one place, to not have it hitting the background, and to not have it hitting my lens. I am going to use the same mark, I think, for her, and this is going to need to go very low. I am going to start with this on 164th power at 105. That's good there.

So I am going to wrap here from the top and bottom on both sides, 164th power at 105. Yeah, this is very, very cool-looking light.

You have got an awesome back, and I want to show that off. But I want to show it off in the context of a portrait of you and also just wrap a little bit of a rim around top and bottom from the back. So I am putting all. Stephanie: A figure of light? David: Yeah, just a little bit of separation from the black, not much at all. Stephanie: Okay. David: The symmetry is going to be really important here for me. Dave, if you need me to do anything different just let me know, okay? So what I want to do is I want to get my exposure nailed on all the backlights, because there are four of them, and I will go to the trouble to adjust the top light to match them, rather than adjusting all the backlights.

I should have one on the floor. Here we go. Now, I am going to make sure I have got my lights with some symmetry here, so I am going to stand here and look at them. It's pretty close. There is a quick change-up, and it's going to be such a different picture. I am going to use the shade here. Hey, Dave, or Mark, John, sorry, Matthew, Luke, can I get you stand on that X for a second while Stephanie, you're a stand-in? John: I don't have her back though. David: No, you don't.

We have got the tiniest bit of light coming from there, and you are wearing black. So I want you to turn around and face towards that corner. Actually, face towards Dave Kyle. Now, just kind of turn and look almost down towards the ground on this side. Yeah, just like think Jet Lee from The Crow. Was it Jet or Brandon? John: Brandon. Pardon me. It looks cool. I have something that's too hot on your face.

So I am going to float this down right over for her head, just right out of the frame, and I want to have to turn down the volume on this because of that. So I just took a stop and a third out of this light, because I want to have it very close so it wraps in a very, just a wicked-cool way. The thing that I am worried about this umbrella, I am shooting through it, but anytime you are shooting through an umbrella, if you go up there and see that flash right now, you can actually see the front of the flash.

So you are going to get some raw light spilling out, and that's what you got to worry about. It's not so much of umbrella as bouncing back and hitting the ceiling, although it is. But I wouldn't mind having all black walls and ceilings in every place that I shoot so I can decide where the lights are going to come from. But your biggest thing with the umbrella is raw light. There is a way--in fact, there is--I am going to make this umbrella smaller. Right now it's about this big. If I choke up on that shaft, just like you choke up on a baseball bat, I can make that umbrella, the actual light source in the umbrella, smaller, and it will sculpt her back better.

So that's the next thing I am going to do. And that will also solve my raw light problem, because I can literally stick the flash inside the umbrella.

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