Sunday, June 03, 2007

Making Lemonade

Face it: At some point in life you're going to be asked to take a picture of a singularly boring object, so learning how a bit of creative lighting can make an image pop can be helpful.

Subject: Blue vase, white flowers. Couldn't be duller.

Arranging the main light was easy. I hooked up my FL-36 at camera left, and fired it into a silvered umbrella about 3 feet away from the vase. To add a bit of light on the right, I added a sheet of aluminum foil to the right (you'll see the ghetto setup in a minute).

The first question was the choice of backdrop. Since I was using the flash, I could turn up the power such that it overwhelmed any ambient light, and I'd be left with an effectively black background. Nice, but still boring. The windows with the vertical blinds in the background provided a nice regularity against the chaos of the flowers themselves, so I decided to keep that in the picture.

To get a good balance between main and ambient, I switched the flash off, and adjusted the shutter speed till I got the ambient light to be about 2 stops underexposed. Now that that's done, all I need to do is crank up the flash to light the flowers up to the brightness I want.

Now keep in mind that the ambient light filtering through those blinds would be pretty close to neutral white, so at 2 stops underexposed those blinds look something of a crypt-like sickly grey. Time for a mood adjustment.

I strapped on a CTO gel to the front of the flash. What this does is make the main light that illuminates the flowers orange (or warmer).

Now, I adjust the camera's white balance to compensate, which gets the main (flash) light on the flowers back to white, but also has the side-effect of shifting the ambient background light from the blinds to blue. Voila, we have mood.

Could I have done better? Absolutely. For one, I would've closed the blinds a smidge, so I wouldn't get the distracting view through the glass. And secondly, I would've used a longer piece of foil on the right, so that fill would extend down to the bottom right flowers too. But that's why I'm an amateur.


dockarl said...

Hi Aaron!

For want of a better way to contact you - I thought I'd post here.

I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to chat with me on the 23rd of May at 'the plex' - it was very cool chatting with you and I enjoyed the whole experience immensely.

As you're prob aware things didn't work out as hoped, but khe serah :)

I found the whole experience very challenging and rewarding, and I have a gut feeling this won't be the 'end of the road' as far as potential for future work with G goes.. Thanks Mate and keep up the good work with the photography!

All the best,

Matthew James

Cecil said...

You a Goan Aaron? Just curious.

Cecil Pinto

Aaron said...

Cecil: Yup :)

Woodchip said...
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