The last goodbye and a lesson

This will be the last picture set of Spyros and Helena together for some time. After her unexpectedly long visit to Cyprus it was time for her to return back to Greece and back to her folks. As a goodbye-kinda gift I was asked to take a few pictures of them together. Thanks for coming Helena, it was really nice, all of us, having you around; my brother especially.

This topic is called, the last goodbye and a lesson, for a reason. It’s actually two topics merged into one. First of all it’s a small goodbye message to Helena. It’s so nice seeing you both together; you guys rock! Secondly, it’s a small lecture about light. It’s how to measure ambient light, how to add a speedlight into the equation and how to add extra speedlights if needed. Due to the time constrain I had during the photo shoot and my usual disorganisation I neglected taking pictures of the room before/after it was lit as well as step by step pictures of the process. For this reason I will try being as thorough as possible in my explanation. This renders the blog entry as “behind the scenes”, without “the scenes”.

Step one was to decide what I would be shooting and how I would do that. Thankfully I didn’t lack the model since Helena is aware of posing. My brother was a different story but not difficult to handle. I opted out for a kind of glamour photo shoot in the living room by the couch. That being decided I went on location to figure out the details.

Step two was trying different light scenarios. Firstly I tried with natural light through a window on camera left. The light was adequate but too flat. The window was huge and provided a soft light I didn’t like the effect. So I killed it altogether. Second thing I would try was to close both windows in the rear but then the picture went boring without anything interesting in the background. Leaving them a third open, broke the dullness of the background as well as illuminating the two of them and separating them from the background.

Once this was done, step three was to balance the room exposure with the main light. My main light was a 21” softbox on camera right and above the two persons.

The camera was set at Aperture priority mode, with f/5.6 and underexposed the scene by (-)2EV to saturate the colours a bit and also make the light a bit more dramatic.

After deciding for the camera settings, I set a single speedlight used with the softbox at 1/8 power and zoomed out at 24mm. The flash was gelled using a ½ CTO gel. This provided a good starting base for my flash exposure and enabled me to alter Aperture size to control the flash output. For those who read about this for the first time, it’s true. Under certain conditions aperture controls the flash exposure. More about this to a soon-to-arrive blog post about this.

These settings produced a nice light with soft shadows. However the wall in the centre was fairly blank and boring. To fix this I placed a full CTO gelled speedlight behind the couch aiming at the wall. The CTO gel threw a nice yellow/golden cast on the wall lighting it up really nice and helped separating the subjects more, from the background. The flash was zoomed out at 24mm and set to 1/32 power.

The next step was to take the actual pictures. I positioned the two next to the couch edge since I liked the lamp to appear in the picture. The pictures in this gallery were hand picked out of a batch of 35. The light setup did not change dramatically throughout the shoot. Some slight movement of the softbox was done. It was mainly moved from a 90 to a 60 degree in respect to the model to either create more or less dramatic light.