Shooting Hannah (and Wen) was quite a learning experience for me. I had limited gear (speedlights, umbrellas, eBay softbox, and reflector) and tight space (my hotel room). To be fair, I knew my challenges before I set out on my trip; but I didn’t realize how little I knew about lighting in small spaces.
The room was very typical; big window with plenty of natural light. Big king size bed taking up most of the space in the room. A desk (which luckily was movable). And boring wallpaper. I decided to keep things simple and start with head shots. I had two options – have Hannah face the window so the background can be dark; or, have Hannah face the room and use the window + curtain to create a bright high-key look. Oh, and I only had two hours to shoot. I had a dinner appointment that I couldn’t be late for.
I started with dark background. I decided to kill the window light by closing the curtain; reason being white balance will be simpler. It worked great except I was not happy with the result I got from my light modifiers. eBay softbox was too small and not diffused enough; this creates specular reflections and high lights on subject’s skin. Silver umbrella was spreading too much light into the background. I suppose if I had more time, I could have experimented a little.
One reason I didn’t want light spill into the background is that I didn’t want the room features to be recognizable; hotel rooms are not my favorites. Playing with camera angle helps a little. The basic setup was:
- SB-800 inside eBay softbox. Camera left. CTO gel’d to match room light temperature.
- Bare SB-800 behind Hanna. Camera right. Hair light.
- Silver reflector on desk (my posing table).
Next I opened the curtain to see how it looked like with ambient only.
Not bad. But I felt the lighting was too flat. Plus for some reason, I had a hard time focusing; perhaps I should have bumped up my ISO more. So I decided to add my lights to create better contrast.
Ah.. much better. Now Hannah’s face got dimensions. Same setup as before, except speed light power has to be balanced with ambient.
For the next set, we moved Hannah to the other side of my impromptu posing table. Took some time to adjust speed light power so that it is some what balanced with the background.
I really love Hannah’s pose on this shot; really elegant. Actually, I messed up the exposure really badly on the above picture. Speed light power was way over-exposed. Thank God for raw files; I was able to bring down the exposure by 2 stops. Setup is the same as before, except ke light is moved to the right. Hair light moved to the left.
That’s it for now. More to come later.