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In the Shooting with Wireless Flash series, award-winning photographer Jim Sugar demonstrates his approach to using off-camera flash in a variety of lighting scenarios, sharing practical tips along the way.
In this installment, Jim shows how to light and shoot a portrait with a dramatic look. He demonstrates a variety of inexpensive lighting tools—clamps, gels, and other light modifiers—to light the subject and the background. He also shows how to offer direction, pose the subject, and make him or her feel more comfortable. The course wraps up with tips on distinct ways to effectively light and separate the subject from the background, using gels, adjusting lights, and modifying the ratios between multiple strobes and the ambient light in the room.
Every time you can add another element to a photo, you increase the complexity of the image and you make it much more fascinating. So we've arranged to use the smoke machine, which Loren is going to fire. And what that will do is it'll put a little puff of smoke at first and then it will dissipate. So we take the smoke machine and we put it down on the ground. And I'll ask Bonnie to bear with me for second one. Why don't you turn around this with just a little? And we're going to turn the strobe away and she's going to become a human light stand, literally.
So I just put it in like this. The backlight, it's doing the same thing, but we don't have a stool and we don't have a clamp. But we've we got Bonnie and so Bonnie becomes our light stand. So Bonnie why don't you stand right there? And I'll take the stool out. I've done this before and it's actually kind of a neat technique. So now we have a piece of seamless that's 9 feet wide and is probably about 10 or 12 feet tall.
And I'm going to position her in such a way that I can shoot a full-length vertical of her, which is something I wasn't able to do a minute or two ago. So let's give it a try. Yes sir, please. Ah, there we go. So the smoke is between Bonnie and the background. So Loren let's give it one more shot. All right, so we've made a few changes. That looks great. Loren, again please. Nice, a little higher up.
Yup, one more time. Go one more time up closer to her head. There it is, there it is! Ah great, that it is, thank you. Just like that. That's it, that's it! Okay, take the claymore and put it on the ground. You can put your left hand on the hilt. Looking straight up at the overhead light. Jut like that, that's great. Eyes to me. We're done.
You did a great job. Thank you, everyone, thank you, Loren. We got it. So there's a lot of hit and miss with smoke, because it's everywhere. And the studio right now, the studio is smoky. So you don't always know what you are going to get. But if you do it enough, you're going to end up with one or two of them and they're going to be really great and I think we succeeded here. And the smoke becomes this really mysterious diffusion element in the photo that works well with all the other changes that we made.
And just remember we started with these tiny little strobes with really really small strobe heads and by adding all these different elements, we've created an effect that's really quite fantastic. And it looks great. So it's been a lot of fun to do and this is one of the reasons that I'm a photographer. Because I just love doing this kind of stuff. And part of it is the mystery of it. You can control a lot of it and you know what you are going to get, but in the case of the smoke machine, you don't always know what you are going to get and that mystery is part of what makes photography so much fun.
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