Question about light equipment for a newbie.
I've been using film cameras for quite a while now, but i've never considered
anything related to lighti equipment (flashes, etc.) so far. But now i've come
closely to the point when i seem to need this equipment for my portraiture
But i actually don't know anything on this topic..
what i would like to achieve (or at least get closer to))) in b/w portraits is
something like this:
photo by Jim Adams: http://photo.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=6572665
Sorry, if my question is too primitive, i just want to get a starting point from
which i can explore this issue further.
Maybe you could also advise me a starter kit or something like that - a must-
have equipment, the minimum I need (I travel and move every now and then,
so something compact would be more adequate)
All answers are appreciated, thanks.
The first thing you need is experience, and this in turn leads to skill.
I occasionally shoot nudes (that is, real, uninhibited naturists, not models simply stripping off for the camera), but not in my studio at the moment (and not in B&W, but in colour, in natural wild settings like rainforest, remote beaches etc.). The image above looks like a Polaroid T55 — rather coyly arranged and shot like, showing as much as we'd like to see, and no more than we wish, with the high contrast complimenting the model's naturally dark features (note that in a glossy woman's "comic" (aka magazine), consistent with the de rigeur 'digital economy' and pursuit of perfection, the veins in the models hand would be airbrushed out, her thighs redefined and skin blemishes dusted away — oh, why we can't all just let it be!!). I strongly favour natural lighting over artificial (studio, flash, etc.) but all of us have different needs. Do you intend to shoot nudes? If so, good people skills are a must, as is a private area (not your backyard!). Equipment can be simple or elaborate. A large matte background in various colours (white, black, patterned), a diffused brolly/strobe flash and modelling light and some bits and pieces of furniture (any sort you fancy: at the moment I'm looking for an ancient rocking chair as a prop in a rainforest shoot) is a common set up, though not necessarily portable. In place of a Polaroid, a digi can be used for pre-shoot assessment but really, only your skill, evolving over time, will get you up to the svelte standard that Jim has in composition and edgy lighting. In your working area, a nearby window (maybe even with thin aluminium venetian blinds to "stripe" the subject with light) can serve as a springboard for experimenting with angular light and shadow. Consider 2-3 off-camera flashes (for travelling portability) with individual small, light tripods and diffused heads (e.g. Lumiquest, maybe even snoots) can be fun (you will burn a lot of film!). Multiple flash sets can be helped with a flashmeter and it doesn't have to be a top-shelf issue. Don't aim too high when starting out, and treat every mistake a valuable blip on the learning curve.
Is the model in that photograph Sanders McNews wife Melanie?
That image you show is a pretty simple 1-light setup, with perhaps a reflector for fill. If you are thinking you want something portable, I'd recommend going with strobe lighting. You could accomplish the above with something as simple as a Vivitar 283 and a softbox, and get a collapsible reflector for fill. All very portable.
Pick up a copy of "master lighting guide for portrait photographers" by Christopher grey great book for explaining lighting set up and equipment needed. He does a lot with one light and foamcore. I think your photo was light with a stripbox from camera left.
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In most major metropolitan areas you can rent strobe lighting set-ups to suit any project. You can try several brands before making a big investment but it's very important that you know exactly how to operate the strobe system you are working with because if used incorrectly- the power packs and light heads can cause deadly accidents. If you don't have the manufacturer's operation manual in hand- don't even bother with the set-up until you do.
"A certain amount of contempt for the material employed to express an idea is indispensable to the purest realization of this idea." Man Ray