Exploring Light, Discovering Style: A Lighting Tutorial
Part 7, Lesson 4: Creating Depth
By Bruce Dorn | February 15, 2011
Concept: Place pools of light to create a sense of depth.
Tools: Monolight+Two Speedlites+Two Strobe Slippers+Softboxes
Action: The rather deep staging of this scene poses a specific challenge. With one player in the immediate foreground and the other well back in the space, appropriate depth-of-field would be a primary consideration.
After blocking the talent, but before continuing to rig, I selected a 35 mm lens and tested several potential f-stops by using my camera's handy depth-of-field preview button. I wanted to emphasize the size differential between the Bride and Groom, but I also had to walk a fine line regarding the relative sharpness of the two players. By refining my composition and camera settings at this early stage, I was able to release Kelly to "make-up and hair" while we made a few adjustments to the rigging.
The dramatic windows certainly suggested an interesting pattern, but the ambient light levels simply wouldn't support my chosen stop. The existing light gave an adequate rendering of the girl's camera-right side and the hidden window's framing, but the bulk of her body, the interior architecture, and the background figure were quite lost in the murk. Once again, I needed to "expose for the highlights and light for the shadows."
The depth-of-field I desired called for an f8 and a relatively high light level so I decided to begin by attending to the further-most of my two radio-synchronized Speedlites. The Groom's Key Light, which was still perched on top of the background column and well-hidden from the camera, remained in Manual Mode and awaited our decision on power output. The Speedlite's positioning was rather intimate, direct, and not diffused, so I took a guess and reduced the output to 1/16th power. A quick test on a stand-in revealed that my guess was well-educated and we moved on to rigging the foreground Speedlite as a Key Light for our Bride.
I've learned that women seldom protest when our lighting flatters their complexions, so Trusty Assistant Paul quickly rigged a Small Softbox onto the Speedlite's Strobe Slipper. Given this light-shaper's tendency to absorb output, we only reduced this Speedlite to 1/4 power. A pair of Gobo Arms were clamped together to bridge between two of the taller columns and the Strobe Slipper was under-slung in a 3/4 front position for the Bride. The position of the background Monolight remained unchanged but I increased that light's output by one full stop.
Everything about this assignment was highly stylized, and this included the poses. As the model gazed dreamily towards her Key Light, a lighting pattern reminiscent of early Hollywood was the gratifying result...
Canon 1Ds Mark II - F8 @ 1/60 ISO 400
Canon 35mm F1.4
Two Canon Speedlites on iDC Strobe Slippers
Medium Softbox and Two C-Stand Arms
Alien Bee B800 in Extra-Large Softbox
Pocket Wizard Transmitter and Recievers
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