Exploring Light, Discovering Style: A Lighting Tutorial
Part 12, Lesson 10: Manage Intensity
By Bruce Dorn | May 03, 2011
Concept: Control light fall-off to balance intensity.
Tools: Two Softboxes+Studio Strobe
Action: I love the figure in repose. Long and languid, it always inspires my subjects to a bit of theatricality. All I need is room to stretch out and a few proper tools...
Brynn's gown featured elaborate detail from top-to-bottom, making her a perfect candidate for dramatic staging. A location survey revealed this fainting couch and a quick bit of furniture rearranging yielded adequate room to work. I cleared just enough area in front of the sofa to allow the use of a short telephoto lens.
Wide angle lenses don't distort, really, they just reveal the nature of the spatial relationships we present to them. It's all a matter of perspective, so think about where you stand. Train yourself to "see" in your favorite focal lengths and lens selection will soon become intuitive.
With the composition "blocked-in" around the sofa, it was now time to place my Key. While rigging a Medium Stand and an adequate Boom Arm, I considered flying a traditional Stripbank above, slightly behind, and parallel to the back of the couch. In this instance, however, the hot center of a conventional strip was not only unnecessary, but actually rather undesirable.
The white dress would reflect considerably more light than my model's skin tones and "highlight blowout" was a very real possibility. What I needed here was plenty of light towards frame left with a gradual falloff towards frame right to compensate for the high-reflectivity of the dress.
This called for the Westcott Asymmetrical Stripbank. Unique within the industry, this light-shaper was purpose-designed for this exact task. The Graduated Strip is engineered to be "hot" at one end then "fall off" by several stops as the light gradually feathers away. This light-shaper is perfect for creating bright facial tones while still rendering proper highlights on the Big White Dress. The directional output from this stripbank would also help to keep our busy background somewhat more obscure.
While this light-shaper works well with either strobe or continuous sources, on this occasion I chose a light-weight Studio Strobe. With the players in place, Inspired Assistant Paul tweaked the Strip to echo Brynn's languid contours.
An additional Medium Softbox to the right of the camera provided a higher-than-usual amount of fill but I liked the look.
Canon 1DS MKII - F4 @ 1/160 ISO 400
Canon 85 mm F1.2
Bron Strobe in Medium Softbox
Bron Strobe in Westcott Asymmetrical Stripbank
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