Monday, 9 June 2014

Frame, Focus, Fire! Don't fiddle!

Light source: Elinchrom 500BX head, triple diffused, 2 metres from subject. 45 deg left 45 deg elevation
A friend of mine, Vittorio (Vic) Natoli, established a highly successful photographic studio (Viva Photography) in Fremantle with just ONE light. He took thousands of fine art portrait images, won major awards in APPA (Australian Professional Photography Awards) and produced a beautiful coffee table book with just that one light. (Vic now tells me I have to stop telling this story because he now owns two lights.)

Let's remind ourselves there is just one sun so why should we create a lighting set-up with 3, 4 or 5 lights. Its a challenge to all of us to understand the effects and subtleties of just one light let only multiples.

Nikon D700 with 85mm Nikkor prime lens.
In my early days teaching pro's in TAFE I often shot portraits in a  TV studio where there were literally twenty or thirty overhead lights. The TV technician would flick a switch and KABOOM! the whole studio was flooded with uniform lighting and I was lurching towards my sunnies. Great for TV but boring for portrait photographers. Subjects lose their shape and form, their clothing loses texture.

When I set up a single  light I'm interested in just tour things:

  1. the power
  2. the diffuseness
  3. the direction
  4. the colour
Hang on a second, I've forgotten the single most important thing - the subject! The human being in front of me. Forget about him or her and you're on a losing bet. Whatever you do, make your subject Numero Uno!

Join my 'Photographing Faces' workshop on 10 August.

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