This photographer has been busy busy busy and has neglected her blog. Sorry about that, but I am happy to say that part of my busy state is due to education. I started in photography back in the film days. Actually, thinking about it, I was about my daughter’s age when I got hooked on this little magical box: you clicked a button and did that enough it would stop clicking! Then you pushed some other button to hear it winding something into this plastic roll. It was that roll where all the magic was stored and to reveal that magic, one only needed to take it in to be developed, resulting in recorded memories. Granted, not always the best recordings but hey I was five! It didn’t take my mother long to realize that I had an obsession with that magic box and being the good mother she was, she bought me my own camera which led me down this path to where I stand now.
Okay, it wasn’t necessarily a straight path but still a path. I went on to study art in college, focusing on painting and photography. I loved both and had talent in both areas but didn’t venture into the career world in either. Nope went the geek route. Yep, I am a geek. I was a network engineer and before that, well known for my knowledge of software. A talent that still does me well, even today. I also have used imaging software since the early 90s and have some great stories in reference to that … but I don’t want to bore you guys. I’ll save those for later.
I guess I was toning up for the next realm of photography: Digital. But I didn’t jump straight in and when I finally did it was more of tiptoeing in. First was a point and shoot; second was a middle range but not yet a DSLR and finally a DSLR but even then I was lazy about learning it. It was much easier to put it on auto and treat it like I did when I was five. Hey, I was recording those memories but were they representations of my memories that years from now I would care to display? LOL Not even close. But I finally came to accept that I needed to get back to my true passion. I didn’t love photography because it was easy. I loved it because of the multitude of challenges it gives me. If you’re a photographer you know what I’m talking about, right? Photography is all about layering. Once you think you have a grasp on a specific area you add another layer and so on and so forth. It really is a never-ending story and one I don’t want to end. I love the challenge of mastering the different components.
Okay, so what have I been ‘mastering’ lately? Lighting. I have visuals of me standing on top of a hill with a light-saber, scanning the sky and … oops sorry. Hey, I told you I was a geek! But I will get to the point of this particular post. The latest member to my photography family: The beautiful stud himself; Einstein. My style is about setting scenes within the environment and I love dramatic lighting options which means I want the ability to over power the sun when necessary. I knew the Einstein was calling me. That and a battery pack. LOVE them both. I got my new light this past week and have been flooding my Facebook friends with lots of test shots, so to all of my Facebook friends, sorry! The photos from below are about one type of lighting: Clam shell lighting but with one light. Hey, I didn’t say I had two Einsteins.The big boy was on a boom stand on top and a reflector was used as the second source underneath. But what I was really playing with was how I modified the Einstein: Beauty Dish, Softbox and Softbox with optional grid.
I have to give a shout out to one of my local photog friends. Jennifer Prince uses Alien Bees and has a wonderful collection of modifiers and has so graciously offered for me to play with them to decide which ones I want to purchase. Let me tell ya … not all photogs are so willing to share their equipment like that and I really do appreciate her generosity. So thanks again Jenn!
Okay, so what do I mean by Clam Shell Lighting? Think about an actual clam shell with the subject sitting between those shells. The shell parts are the light sources. My particular setup used a silver reflector for the bottom shell setup. This is the most basic of methods and is easily build-able from there. Ideally the bottom light should be one stop below the top light and my setup meets that ideal situation. This is where a light meter really comes in handy.
Now to consider those different modifiers. And each one has its place and depending on your subject, you might be more drawn to one type then another…
The first two photos where taken with the Beauty Dish. This is a basic dish with no additional grid or scrim applied to it. I do want to point out that if you do go this route, be prepared to spend some time on placement of that light. It isn’t as forgiving as the softbox. The top photo, I had the light source too far in causing some less desirable shadow placements. The next one (and yes, my model is a ham) is with the light pulled back a little. I think the light produced was more pleasing on the second photo, what do you think?
The next setup was the softbox without the grid. The softbox is more forgiving of the placement. Beyond that, what do you think? It does give a softer light and some find this more pleasing for little kids and babies.
But if the above photo feels too soft in flooding, how about attaching a grid? A grid gives you more directional lighting and quick fall off. Notice the background looks darker in the photo below than the one’s above. This is directly linked to the grid.
And the last example … well … I did warn you I’m a geek so I couldn’t stick with just the basic clam lighting. This one is Grid softbox and a hair light on subject’s left. Lighting is all about layering, which frankly is photography in a nutshell. The more you layer the more complex the imagery you can produce.
I hope the examples above helped you visually see the difference that modifiers can make. I will be testing a few other ones but I’m pretty sure the softbox with optional grid is my next purchase.
And since I did state my model is a little ham, thought I would include one more showing how she made me work for those shots.
Deborah Chetwood is an award winning, published photographer in Austin, TX who specializes in stylized children's, senior's and glamour photography. To find out more about the artist click HERE.
Please visit our other website for information on the Texas Vogue: Contemporary Glamour.