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In this installment of the Lighting with Flash series, photographer and Strobist publisher David Hobby visits a conservation center to photograph subjects small and large, demonstrating flash lighting techniques along the way. The course begins with a close-up shoot of a small frog—and with details on how to light close-ups and macros using a small softbox and a reflector made of crumpled aluminum foil. Next, David uses multiple strobes and umbrellas to transform a dark blacksmith shop into a warm backdrop for a portrait of a craftsman at work. In a bonus chapter, David discusses an approach for organizing photo meet-ups that have a purpose: leveraging the talents of multiple photographers to quickly create a set of photos for a worthy organization.
David: All right. So, we're going to be shooting Alban using this doorway as a backdrop for a portrait. It's got a lot of really nice texture to it, both in the door itself, but also, there's some depth inside. And I want to see if you can see this but but I've taken a Stoffen and put it on an SB-800, which I've got slaved. And I blacked out the front of the Stoffen, so, so, if I've got this set up right, oh no, I've gotta reset it. One moment please, there we go. And mode, manual. So, what I'm going to do is light up this doorway, and I'm killing a lot of the light that will be going straight on the doorway itself. And leaving more of it to go around the edges.
So, it made it like, it sort of comes out like this, like a, like a saucer, and not so much forward. If I had this off, you see how much brighter the door would be right there. And even if I took this tape off of this Stoffen, it's, it's not technically a Stoffen, it's a little diffuser that comes with the camera. You could also see that it's going to be way hotter right there, so I'm trying to modulate the different densities of that door. It's pretty high tech, this is something they call Gaffer's tape (SOUND), it's just way cleaner. Can you see that going through the camera? Not everyone will sync, it's going to auto, going to happen between frames.
So, I'm going to start from the back, and I'm going to light this, and I'm going to get my exposure. And I'm going to go for something that I know I can hit with the other flashes. So, I'm looking for, like I am very many times, I'm looking for F56 to F8 for a lot of reasons. Number one that's what these flashes were designed to do. To work in fairly close, and to light people to f 5, 6, or f8, f11. number two is I'm going to be able to carry depth. So, this door might not be tack sharp but it's going to be fairly sharp. And I know that I'm going to have full sharpness through Alvin's face. number three my lenses are their sharpest at five, six, and eight, just like yours are.
Even if you've got a $3,000 Canon superpass prime or if you've got a kit zoom lens that cost $50 or maybe came with your camera for free. They are not at their sharpest when they're wide-open. They're not even their sharpest when they're closed all the way down. It's the middle of the range that they get. They just get really nice and crisp, so every lens is, is beautiful at F5,6 or F8 so that's a good reason to zone in there. Unless you have a reason depth of field wise or, I don't have enough light wise or I want to get every little thing in focus.
And you're going to find that things just work, a lot of times. So, this is the key light and this a LumiQuest Softbox 3, which, it's. I would never go anywhere without, shooting people. It's a nice key light, because it's not really hard and not really soft at a normal working distance. Has an interesting quality to it that's going to be when I'm going to hit Alvin with from camera right. I'm going to cut that light and keep it from wrapping around the right hand, or his left hand side of his face, with this gobo/g. Which is just a piece of black coroplast/g. And I'm going to fill everything with some ring from the front.
So that's going to give me three easily controllable zones. I've got the zone on the door, which will be relatively controllable between the door and the frame of the door, because of that tape. I've got the key light zone, the highlight zone on Alvin's face. And I've got the shadows zone. So, all three of those zones are going to be things that I can control independently. And that's going to give me the the ratios, the internal contrast ratios. And the choice of those ratios that I want within the frame itself. Now I could also alter the color at any of those light sources. And in fact I do have a one quarter CTO gel, which is a slight warming gel.
Which is going to give you a couple of weeks on the Rivera as far as your skin tone. Just right there. No one ever complains about that. no one ever says, yeah, it's nice, but I look a little more cadaverous in real life. So, I'm going to go with that but, this is my key light that always keeps a, quarter CTO on it. These other two lights are going to be straight white. But if I were going effect, I could cool them both down a little bit and have that whole environment look very cool. The fill shadows would look cool, the doors would look cool. And I'm talking about cool as in color not cool as in hey dude, you know this that's cool. But so I can keep everything cool in the frame except for just that little shaft of light is going to be revealing out its face and create a little color contrast in there too.
But I'm just going to go warm versus neutral. And I think, I think that's going to be a neat look. I've seen that before and it's subtle, but, but really, it helps define someone's face better, when they're the only thing in the warm light.
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