The Portrait of a Photographer

Discussion in 'Lighting Tutorials' started by MichaelSewell, Apr 20, 2017.

  1. MichaelSewell

    MichaelSewell Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Sep 1, 2015
    Burnley, UK
    Michael A. Sewell

    This is the portrait of Wayne Myers I shot for the blog entry on the launch of his own career as a full time professional, as opposed to working full time for me.

    I had a few enquiries asking as to how it was lit, and what was it shot with. So, here’s pretty much a full walk through, although there is no behind the scenes images, as I hadn’t intended to do a tutorial on this. Lesson learned, although I’ll still likely forget.

    What I wanted, was something a little more akin to the renaissance period. A little darker than my usual, and also a little more subtle than my usual too. Why? Because Wayne has a particular interest in good portraiture work, and it’s something he enjoys creating. So I could hardly stuff him in front of the camera and create an image that wouldn’t do him justice. He likes the classic look to a his portraits. An almost painterly feel, but not quite. Something that takes the viewer back to the period between painting and photography, where the lines were a little more blurred and the ambience a little less clinical.

    Okay, I’ve set out my stall, now lets go through the set up.

    Frame left, I had an Elinchrom ELB400 firing through a honeycombed 30x140cm stripbox and aiming at the black paper backdrop. I didn’t particularly want it go too light. Just enough to take it up from black, and provide a distinct lighter side to Wayne, compared to frame right, which I wanted to go to deepest black. This would be reversed for Wayne, where the frame left side of his face would fall to black, and his frame right would be well defined and lit. Basically, a Chiaroscuro lighting technique. Anyway, I had to take a couple of test shots to line up the point of falloff accurately behind Wayne. It was set to fire at an output of 3.0.

    I placed a second ELB400 frame right. This was to about shoulder height and firing through another 30x140cm honeycombed stripbox at an output of 3.0. This provided the accent light seen along the top of his shoulder, on his shirt collar, neck and ear. It also provided the accent on his cheek and increased the definition and texture of his hair.

    To my immediate right, I placed an 80x80cm folding softbox with a fitted honeycomb. I had an ELB400 firing through it at an output of 3.5. The softbox was as high as the stand would allow, and angled slightly downward. Wayne was quite well forward of the backdrop, so as to reduce the possibility of any light from key light source causing the backdrop to lighten.

    It’s actually a simple three light setup, with only two needed for the subject.

    Olympus OM-D E-M1 mkII 1/250th sec ISO200 12-40mm f2.8 @f5.6
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  2. DWS

    DWS Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 6, 2014
    Very complementary!
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  3. Repp

    Repp Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 27, 2011
    Seoul, South Korea
    As always, a wonderful shot. Do you ever see instances where the grid/egg-crate shows a pattern on the backdrop or subject? I've had it happen a few times with my small strip box and have more or less given up on using the grid with it.
  4. MichaelSewell

    MichaelSewell Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Sep 1, 2015
    Burnley, UK
    Michael A. Sewell
    Yes occasionally.
    Sometimes I make it work, depending on the subject. The honeycomb on the Octa is quite evident on Boba Fett in this post Cosplayers
    But I think it still works.

    Other times I remove the honeycomb and turn the modifier more acutely to avoid flare, therefore making more use of the feathering.

    And then there are the times I get wound up and switch the setup completely.
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