I have been doing some high key shoots with white seamless and three Photogenic monolights,
my main (f/8.5) has a large softbox, positioned/angled close and left to my subject (child),
my fill (f/11) is umbrella-bounced, positioned just behind camera/slightly right,
and my backlight (f/22) has one of those dome-thingys so all the light pours over the background.
Silver reflector positioned at subject's right.
The last time I set this up, my background was blown-out, as I had intended, and the fill was spot on. Yesterdays work had shadows.... and I'm not understanding why I'm not consistent.
So, what's wrong? Are my f/stops off? Any advice.
Thank you --
I'm not familiar with Photogenic Monolights. When you say that your main was f/8.5, are you describing metered readings? If so ... Reflective or incident?
One thing a little unusual is that your "fill" at f/11 is a half stop "stronger than your "main" at f/8.5. Usually it is the other way around ... but no big deal, as far as I can see. A half stop isn't much of a difference.
Possibly ... you write that your fill is "just behind the camera/slightly right." I have to be *very* careful with lighting "behind" the camera - I have been known to meter (Gossen Ultra Pro with Studio Dome attachment ) for incident readings at the subject's position, and then block one of the lights with my body when I move to the camera. Possibly ...? Were you standing in the same place while operating the camera at both sessions?
Metered with my Gossen Luna-Star F2 with the white dome thing at front.
And yes, the fill-main is usually flipped, as you said, but I feared over lighting subject, with the backlight twice the fill already.
But you're right... I must have BLOCKED the fill light, so I'm about to redo the whole thing using a remote cord and tripod, so I can melt away.
And then ditto with my main increased a stop.
Thanks for your very rapid reply. I love this place.
To do high key photography, generally the background is two stops brighter than your main light.
Also a 3:1 lighting ratio on the subject is having the fill, one stop less than the main light. Since you are using a reflector as fill, you kind of throw out the equation. (Usually you would have the main at say f11 and the fill at f8 no reflector)
If you use a reflector, just meter the main, then the shadow and feather the lights to get the 3:1 or 5:1 ratio.
In your situation with only three lights, with high key, I might try two lights, opposite sides equal distance angled in at the background, having the background reading evenly f16. Then light the subject with one light and fill with the reflector. Set the main for f8.
If you are doing only once person you may get away with one background light but you may still get falloff and an uneven background.
Personally I find a silver reflector to be too harsh and would use white fomecore or a white reflector.
Also feather your mainlight. Than means place the hottest spot of the light at the farthest portion of the face. This gives a more wraparound effect and also places more light on the reflector which makes the fill closer to the amount of light as the mainlight.
In high key photography usually you don't want very much contrast so rarely more than a 3:1.
The umbrella is fine behind you. The umbrella will easily wrap the light around you and hit the subject. It is not a good idea to use a long remote cable release because if you want to interact with the subject you can't see the results away from the camera.
Also what I do is meter the main light and with a reflector fill set the camera to about half or a full stop less than the main which will still give you shadow detail. The fill is not supposed to do anything more than fill the shadows and the shadow side of the face. Your lighting ratios 3:1, 5:1 7:1 will give you the differing amount contrasts. So concentrate more on you main light than anything. The fill just controls the contrast.
If this is confusing personal mail me.
Thanks Michael. Too bad you live so far away.