Monday, October 1, 2012

Portraits with Natural Light

These two images have been taken in exactly the same spot, using two very different cameras, but the same light set up, which I consider 'classic' for studio portrait. Both just use only natural light, but in a way that closely mimics the studio set up I'd use. My point? To show that one can apply  a simple light set-up   independently of the environment  (the photo studio or a fancy bar) and the camera. For this images I used a  good digital SLR (focal lenght was 20mm, almost equivalent to a 35mm at full frame) and an iPhone, with has an  even wider lens.  Both images were shot at f2.8. So where are the lights and most importantly, where is it  that they aren't? Think of how you 'd light this in the studio:

-  Key: large softbox to camera left.
-  Accent+fill: striplight to camera right.
-  fill for face: a white reflector under the subject or a small softbox low and a bit on camera right.
-  hairlight or better a spot light.

 In an bar the trick is to position yourself and the subject in a way to take advantage of where
the natural light sources are, in this case;

1 -   a large, floor to ceiling window a few feet at  camera left, with mostly reflected light from nearby buildings.

2 -   a  door inot a small backyard about 30' to  camera right, at the end of a dark corridor.

3 - an electric light behind the subject

4 - a white table

5 - the most important thing: an otherwise fairly dark room, with  interesting fixtures and dark walls that absorb light and  do not reflect much or any, back onto the subject. The images would most likely do not work as well in a room with white walls, that would make the lighting less interesting.  Also, any bright colored walls would make getting appropriate skin colors pretty hard. So choose your scene carefully....

But at the end pretty similar schemes right?

 The two portraits also show the effect of using  (top) a very  wide lens  to get a  dramatic effect, amplified by the reflection in the model's sunglasses, compared (bottom) with a more classic, 'commercial' framing of the subject. The larger DSLR frame has a shallower depth of field, which shows clearly in the slightly out of focus  bar furniture.  In both cases I did some light skin retouching (to keep the subject 'real' as appropriate for their intended use)  and some post coloring with Lightroom. And if you need to hire a speaker  to talk about planets and stars, you can go here, a website where  you can also hire Salman Rushdie, although his portrait is not as good, at least in my opinion ;).