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  1. #1
    Toffle's Avatar
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    Existing Light Portraits

    I've been asked by a friend to do a portrait/figure study, and through conversations on the subject, we have more or less decided that we will use "existing light" (in this case some low, oblique lights) in a rather austere setting. This suits me, because I don't have much in the way of flash equipment, and nothing for hotlights or backdrops, etc. The one flash I have is a Sunpak 383, though I have not used it much in the last couple of years. I've got one slave strobe, GN unknown, that I could use for backlighting if need be. I'm afraid I would have to do some learning (again) to use these effectively. (hence our decision to use natural lighting)

    Apart from family snaps and a few theatre headshots, I have not done portraiture in any big way. I have done still life studies in a similar environment, and it seems like this particular project more or less fits this category in any case.

    I'll most likely be shooting MF on my Rollieflex, though if I use my N80, I'll gain more flash control at the expense of a smaller negative.
    Does anyone have any hints that will help me attain success in this project? I think at best I have two sessions available to get two or three good shots.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Cheers,
    Tom, on Point Pelee, Canada

    Ansel Adams had the Zone System... I'm working on the points system. First I points it here, and then I points it there...

    http://tom-overton-images.weebly.com


  2. #2
    Paul Goutiere's Avatar
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    Flash has never been my cup of tea with film cameras. I hate all the wires, bulk, batteries and the unnatural look that happens when I use the things. I only use available light.

    I've used my Rolleiflex successfully with available light, it seems to suit as well as my Leica M4-P. To fill in dark areas I'll have someone hold a white piece of paper just out of the frame to fill
    in the dark areas.

  3. #3
    Mike Wilde's Avatar
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    bounce card and diffusion

    think of white foam core as your best friend here - and try to see what you can do to hold it as needed - I find a few stacking chairs and some A clamp clips work when you are in a pinch.

    For good available light indoors you may need to put diffusion over your natural light source. A trip to the art store for tracing paper, or fabric land/value vilage for thin sheer curtain material.
    my real name, imagine that.

  4. #4
    naeroscatu's Avatar
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    From the little portraiture I tried, I definitely liked better the ones where natural light was used (with reflecting surfaces to fill in the shadows). Portraits with flash or strobes are ok for commercial work but they don't touch you, they lack the soul.
    Mihai Costea

    "There's more to the picture
    Than meets the eye." - Neil Young

    Galleries:My PN & My APUG

  5. #5
    dpurdy's Avatar
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    Is there a window? If someone wants me to do natural light shots in doors the first thing I look for is the window and how close I can get to it and what is the background. If you have to use existing incondescent lights you might consider using Delta 3200 in the Rollei and shooting near wide open.
    Dennis

  6. #6

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    White reflectors are a good idea...but also don't be afraid of wide apertures. You can handhold a rangefinder at a much slower speed than many other cameras. Of course, you're not going to get depth of field at those apertures but you will gain a wonderful glow.

    Here's one at f2.0, a Zeiss Planar 50mm on a Leica M2...scan of a silver print.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/viapiano/2547066661/

  7. #7
    Toffle's Avatar
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    Most of what I'm hearing here reinforces my gut feeling about this project. As I've said, I've done still life studies using existing lighting. In such cases, I have the opportunity to arrange the scene and place shadows where I want them to fall, and reduce them as need be. The problem is I've never done anything like this with a living model. I'm afraid, more than controlling the lighting, working with a model will be the hardest part of this project.

    Cheers,
    Tom, on Point Pelee, Canada

    Ansel Adams had the Zone System... I'm working on the points system. First I points it here, and then I points it there...

    http://tom-overton-images.weebly.com


  8. #8
    dpurdy's Avatar
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    Go into it with an open mind. You don't have to know exactly what you are going to do in advance. Look at it as a chance to find out what happens in the situation and make it an experimental learning situation with no pressure to prove yourself.

    Plus personally I would use a tripod as I find subject motion far more interesting than camera motion.
    Dennis

  9. #9
    Rolleiflexible's Avatar
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    Tripod. And cable release.

  10. #10
    Toffle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rolleiflexible View Post
    Tripod. And cable release.
    I use a tripod for just about everything I shoot anyway. (not so much on the Rollei, 'cause it's such a joy to hold)

    I think I'm getting a pretty clear idea of what I want to accomplish here.

    Question... if I'm shooting at night, how would a halogen work light work placed outside the window? I'd like to take advantage of the shadows created through a window.

    Cheers, and thanks for the tips... keep 'em coming.
    Tom, on Point Pelee, Canada

    Ansel Adams had the Zone System... I'm working on the points system. First I points it here, and then I points it there...

    http://tom-overton-images.weebly.com


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