Small group portrait lighting advice.

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by Steve Smith, Oct 1, 2007.

  1. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    In much the same way as we are occasionally asked to shoot weddings despite having no interest/experience, I have been asked to photograph some musician friends for a CD cover image despite being mainly a landscape photographer who doesn't really like people in his images.

    Therefore I would appreciate some advice as to lighting set up.

    I have the use of a couple of studio lights and I was thinking about the following setup:

    Main light slightly to the right and about 2' higher than the camera. Second light lower than the camera and to the left through a white cloth reflector used as a diffuser (I did this once before and it worked quite well).

    I also have a Vivitar 285 and a few other flashes which could be used on the background.

    The look they want is of a 1940's radio studio (the band is called The Radiotones). We have made an illuminated 'On Air' sign which will be fixed to the wall together with a clock.

    The musicians (three) will be standing around an old, large microphone of the correct period. Two holding guitars and one with a double bass.

    Just to make it a bit more difficult, they will probably be wearing hats!

    Any advice you can offer would be appreciated as I don't really know what I am doing here. However, I do want to do it as it is for friends and I have no intention of charging them for it. There is no time deadline so if it doesn't work, we will have just another go at it.


    Steve.
     
  2. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Make sure they tilt the hats back a bit so they don't cast shadows on the faces. Make sure your fill light comes from below to help with those on-face shadows.
     
  3. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

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    Be careful of bouncing too much light around. If you have an illuminated On Air sign, you want enough shadow to make the signn glow. Unless your background is very, very dark, I'd suggest omitting the background lights and let the light fall off help your subject stand out.

    Also, watch that the fill isn't too strong. Just enough light to get shadow detail is great. Too much, and it'll go flat very quickly.

    - CJ
     
  4. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    Thanks for your advice.

    The fill light will be coming from below. I'm not sure if it is better on the opposite side to the main light or the same side. I could try it both ways.

    I am thinking that I want minimal detail in the background so I probably will not use a background light.

    The fill light will probably be at half power and through a diffuser.

    This could be a good time to experiment with the polaroid back I bought recently.

    Now I just have to build some adaptors to convert my speaker stands into light stands!


    Steve.
     
  5. Bandicoot

    Bandicoot Member

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    That struck me as a possible issue too - my thought would be to do a double exposure: one for the people, prop.s etc. with the lights on, and one with the set dark and just the on-air sign lit up. Polaroid tests will get the balance right between the two.


    Peter
     
  6. CBG

    CBG Member

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    Some info might help get good help back to you. Are you shooting in BW or color? What format? Beyond "a 1940's radio studio", you seeking a particular "look", i.e. high key, low key top light bottom light?

    If they insist on hats, you might want to have them "illuminated" by a mixing board. Not really, but have them at a console of some sort and bring the light up from below so the hats don't kill the whole thing. Could be a low key moody shot. Yes, people will tell you light from below is macabre, and thus abhorrent, but it's not so macabre when it looks like it's just light from a source below the face - like a mixing board... Just a thought.

    One more thought, can you do a test ot two, until you have a proven plan or two, with a couple of folks who are just there to model for test shoots?

    Best,

    C
     
  7. Christopher Nisperos

    Christopher Nisperos Member

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    Steve

    Just for fun try a few shots using hard bare flash close to the camera lens just as press photographer would have done in the 1940s ... plus it solves all your problems at once.

    Chris
     
  8. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    That's a good idea. I could just attach a flash to my Rolleicord and take that along as well and use it hand held whilst my RB67 sits on the tripod.

    There will be plenty of time to experiment with no expectation (but plenty of hope) of anything wonderfull being created!

    Thanks for all the comments/suggestions so far.



    Steve.