Tag Archives: Lighting

Using Available Lighting in Photography

Using Available Lighting in PhotographyUsing Available Lighting in Photography

One of the things I think a lot of photographers try to do is bend light to do interesting things with photography. I got lucky enough to work with an amazing model, a dark hallway that was back lit, a couple of candles and a flashlight. It helped that I had a trusty camera assistant to help me out along the way with holding the flashlight, and the model was awesome for putting up with me while we futzed around trying to get everything just right to make this picture work.

Basically this is a standard silhouette shot with a LED flashlight to help offset the back lighting from a set of fluorescent lamps in the background. Ratchet down the F Stops to 3.5, and shot around 1600 ASA to pull this off. It was a truly dark tunnel in the Seattle Underground, the funny part is that they had an IR camera in the hallway to spot ghosts.

This next picture is all natural lighting, there was a single spot out of frame that I had her stand below next to the coffin so that we could try to get some kind of ghost light or god light on the subject, while barely lighting the rest of the room. Same settings on the camera as the spot was a low wattage light like you see in restaurants now. The coffin and other parts of the Victorian set design was provided by teh location, if you want to have an eerie creepy location, then Spooky Seattle is the place to do a photo shoot, there are a lot of places to do interesting things with light in their space.

Using Available Lighting in Photography

Bending light to be interesting is a huge challenge for me, and I like it when I can get something to work just the way I want it to work. If you want to see the rest of the gallery from this model and this shoot you can go here to check it out or check at the bottom of the page for the partial gallery. The shoot was Haunted New Years at Spooky Seattle offices down on Cherry and 1rst Ave, Pioneer Square. Fun place to shoot, but it is available for renting if you want to use the location and some of the underground Seattle areas as well. Seattle has an interesting history with a lot of pockets like this to take pictures in.


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Jesse Bell Jones Burlesque Dancer

Jesse Bell Jones Burlesque DancerJesse Bell Jones Burlesque Dancer

If you missed this weekend’s Steampunk Exhibition Ball, then you really missed out on one of the coolest and fun parties here in the Seattle area. So I was lucky enough to be one of the event photographers for the show and finally got everything processed and done nicely for the Center for Sex Positive Culture who sponsors the event. Tons of very cool stuff, but let’s look at this from a photographer’s perspective. Lighting was awesome this year, the stage was nicely lit with a huge dance floor that had some decent overhead lighting, and the guy manning the spot light was also pretty good. Camera set on Auto no flash because in an event you really don’t have time to go manual, nor do you have time to go Aperture priority along the way. This is when you trust your camera to make decisions or you don’t. Surprisingly the camera did a pretty good job, so a lot of pictures worked out that I didn’t think would. Jessie Bell Jones is one of those sets.

Challenging to say the very least. She was doing her burlesque act on the dance floor, meaning the only viable lighting was the spot light. This is why I love the spot man; he was doing a great job keeping her lit enough for the camera. The only time the auto system failed was when the spot went orange, I have no idea what it is about Nikon, auto focus, and the color orange, but they sure do not like each other. Most of the orange lit did not come out, meaning the set was short as the light rotated colors about one color per minute. Otherwise you had muted overhead lighting to work with. The ISO’s were jacked to 3200 to help compensate, but you can tell the difference between the spot and non-spot lit pictures. This is why event photography totally rocks and is awesome. You rarely have challenges like this in studio or even on the street. I need to do more stuff like this.

Enjoy the lady in horns, this was a fun burlesque to capture.


View photos at SmugMug



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Thoughts on a Modeling Shoot and some lessons learned


Thoughts on a Modeling Shoot and some lessons learned

Thoughts on a Modeling Shoot and some lessons learned

Taking pictures of models is hard for me, so I am thankful that some of my contacts sometimes throw mass modeling shoots and I am invited along. Along the way, I get to learn a lot about lighting, and how to take better pictures of people. The Femme LTD modeling shoot in Burien was my third modeling shoot since the early 1980’s, making for an interesting day to go along with that and some important lessons along the way.

Probably the most problematic and this is something I could have controlled was one model who wanted to have permission to post the pictures. I really didn’t think anything of it, and used that model for 2.5 hours of a 7 hour shoot, with hundreds of pictures. It was much to my surprise when she said she didn’t want any of them posted, and was finally able to negotiate them down to some of them being posted as long as she was not in her underwear. Never ever change your model release on the fly; you could end up like me with a few hundred pictures that took a significant amount of time that you suddenly can’t use anywhere. So if any model ever wants to change the model release, just say no, you worked hard on that release and there is nothing worse than having awesome pictures that the model has said you can’t use. It is not worth the lawsuit later on down the road, and this delays my model mayhem debut until next week.

The good part is that I have another model shoot this weekend so I can try to fill those lost pictures in. There is also a huge difference between taking pictures of Caucasians and African Americans, I got to work with my first two African American Models, and both were awesome. However, you have to change lighting and you have to change how you take their pictures. I also learned that a white background can be a detriment in a small crowded space, so the need for a neutral or black background is apparent as I was getting wicked shadows across the background that are hard to filter out without filtering out the Caucasian models.

Yellow light sucks, even when you white balance for it, yellow regular incandescent light bulbs suck and makes shooting in a house difficult. I should have turned off the yellow lights, but didn’t so that is on me. Color corrections across the entire photo shoot along with the white background made for some interesting pictures. You end up bleaching out the whole thing and either going for a soft black and white effect or end up with washed out models with a wicked red shift in the color correction that you really can’t get rid of in lightroom. I ended up either doing my best for color correction on the cool side, or using vignettes and/or black and white treatments to get some of these pictures to come out awesome. But you end up with bleached colors, which does not make for model mayhem quality pictures.

I had a blast though but shooting pictures in someone else’s house with a lot of incandescent light bulbs and a white background with Caucasian models means I have a lot of pictures that require a lot of work. Work I will make time for, but will be a significant amount of work to make them come out usable, not awesome, but something I can use on my own right. You can see one of the heavily modified pictures above.

Good lessons learned, and with a model shoot tomorrow, and then an ongoing project to recreate some of the Ziegfeld Follies pictures later in December will keep me busy. Then a hot car and hot model photo shoot in January, it looks like it is going to be an interesting way of closing out the year. I have a black backdrop, a different way of lighting the set, and if I see regular in house lighting, the first thing I am doing is turning it off. And yes, there will be no more last minute changes to the model release ever and going forward. The bad part is that I also cannot afford to use that model again, because I want to use the pictures I take.

You can see the pictures over here on Smugmug if you want to brave it, they are mostly rushes as I have not had time to clean them all up.

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