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First 2 Studio and Lighting Sessions

The first two sessions of my Studio and Lighting course have been a combination of theory and practice.  Since it is difficult to practice the concepts at home since I (and most of my fellow classmates) do not have a lighting setup (or enough space to set one up), each class includes a studio shoot.  I’m definitely learning a lot about what is a whole new world of photography to me.

IMG_0823The first class was mostly a review of basic photography concepts like aperture values.  We also talked about some of the differences between shooting with continuous light (i.e. street photography) versus studio setups with strobes.  Basically the flashes make your shutter speed negligible (since they fire for ~1/10,000 of a second) and you have control over everything so the shot can completely be your vision.  We replicated a few simple shots of an egg using a single light.  The object was to learn how to position the light source to create the shadows you want.

IMG_0834Our first homework assignment was to recreate three photos with different shadows using either multiple lights or a bounce card.  I took some shots of a pepper grinder, using a bounce card and then my on-camera flash to reduce the shadows.  I brought it into the second class for the instructor to review. She was excited I completed the assignment but suggested I redo it for the following week: since my subject was shiny there were highlights from both reflections and the light, so it was hard to tell how well I did with the actual lighting.

The second class covered lighting terminology and setup for portraits.  The key light, which for portraits is typically at a 45 degree angle from the subject, is the light that creates shadows.  The fill light, which is normally placed close to where the camera is, reduces the contrast between the highlights and shadows.  The separation light is back lighting, pointed towards the camera to separate the subject from the background.  We also covered the order of operations, recommended steps to follow in a studio situation to be most efficient and get the best shots.

  1. Determine the distance between the subject and the background.  Typically you want there to be as much separation as possible.  You must look through your lens at your selected focal length to ensure the positioning is correct.
  2. Determine the exact pose or positioning of your subject.  You will be setting up your lighting based on how the shadows fall on the exact pose.
  3. Pick your depth of field (and any other general camera settings).
  4. Set up your lights: put up the stands and turn everything on.
  5. Meter your key light on the subject (with separation light off).  Meter the area of the subject that the key light is shining on, from the perspective of the lens. Adjust the power on the light to reach the aperture you want to shoot at.
  6. Meter your fill light and adjust as needed.
  7. Meter the key light again and do final adjustments.
  8. Meter your separation light (with the key and fill lights off) and adjust as needed.

IMG_0840After going over all this material, we did a quick shoot with a 3-point lighting setup.  We exposed the key light at middle gray, with the fill light 2 stops darker, and the separation light 1 stop brighter.  After successfully taking this shot, we took another picture with the fill light turned off to see the difference.