lighting practice for Photo booth - Part I

May 10, 2014  •  Leave a Comment
 

This is the first of three blog posts about some recent lighting practice for firefighter portraits:
Part 2 - Ring Light
Part 3 - Fire Sessions (coming soon!)
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In July, I'll be running a photo booth at the 2014 South Atlantic Fire Rescue Expo! Along with planning on how I'm going to set up & run the booth, I had to figure out my lighting setup for it.  Even though this is a photobooth, I don't want to create quick, poorly lit snapshots that people typically associate with photobooths.  I want to keep true to my dramatic & edgy style, so I needed to practice how I'll set up my lighting equipment to achieve the look I want.  

So, I asked some of the guys I volunteer with in the Mebane Fire Department if they'd like to help me out...and a bunch of them were more than happy to step in front of my lights & camera.

My first attempt was a simple setup - a 22" Beauty Dish placed in front of & slightly off to the side of the person, with a silver reflector on their other side to lighten up the shadow side of the face.  

Chapel Hill Durham Burlington Firefighter Fire Department Photographer pictures-initial-lighting-setupChapel Hill Durham Burlington Firefighter Fire Department Photographer pictures-initial-lighting-setup

That simple setup resulted in this type of portrait:

Chapel Hill Durham Burlington Firefighter Fire Department Photographer pictures-MFD Backdrop-06-IPIXSChapel Hill Durham Burlington Firefighter Fire Department Photographer pictures-MFD Backdrop-06-IPIXS

That's an awesome portrait with a simple & easy setup...but I wanted a more dramatic look to it.  So I decided to scrap that setup & do something totally different and extreme....I went with a three light setup that looks like this:

Chapel Hill Durham Burlington Firefighter Fire Department Photographer pictures-secondary-lighting-setupChapel Hill Durham Burlington Firefighter Fire Department Photographer pictures-secondary-lighting-setup

That setup used a gridded softbox & a gridded striplight behind the person, with a bare speedlight in front of them, off to camera left.  That resulted in these kinds of portraits:

Chapel Hill Durham Burlington Firefighter Fire Department Photographer pictures-MFD Backdrop-19-IPIXSChapel Hill Durham Burlington Firefighter Fire Department Photographer pictures-MFD Backdrop-19-IPIXS Chapel Hill Durham Burlington Firefighter Fire Department Photographer pictures-MFD Backdrop-29-IPIXSChapel Hill Durham Burlington Firefighter Fire Department Photographer pictures-MFD Backdrop-29-IPIXS Chapel Hill Durham Burlington Firefighter Fire Department Photographer pictures-MFD Backdrop-39-IPIXSChapel Hill Durham Burlington Firefighter Fire Department Photographer pictures-MFD Backdrop-39-IPIXS Chapel Hill Durham Burlington Firefighter Fire Department Photographer pictures-MFD Backdrop-51-IPIXSChapel Hill Durham Burlington Firefighter Fire Department Photographer pictures-MFD Backdrop-51-IPIXS

That's EXACTLY the dramatic style I wanted!  The bare speedlight was a little harsh on the face, so I changed it up to a bounce umbrella instead, placed right alongside the camera, to provide a nice soft fill light on the front of the guys.

Chapel Hill Durham Burlington Firefighter Fire Department Photographer pictures-fire-lighting-setupChapel Hill Durham Burlington Firefighter Fire Department Photographer pictures-fire-lighting-setup

That final setup actually has four strobes being used....the fourth one is behind the strip light in the middle of the image (the vertical rectangle), and is pointed towards the background to light it.  

Here's the result of this last setup using the bounce umbrella instead.  A very subtle change in the quality of light, but an overall improvement in the image:

Chapel Hill Durham Burlington Firefighter Fire Department Photographer pictures-MFD Backdrop-58-IPIXSChapel Hill Durham Burlington Firefighter Fire Department Photographer pictures-MFD Backdrop-58-IPIXS Chapel Hill Durham Burlington Firefighter Fire Department Photographer pictures-MFD Backdrop-75-IPIXSChapel Hill Durham Burlington Firefighter Fire Department Photographer pictures-MFD Backdrop-75-IPIXS

So that'll be the lighting setup I use at the convention in July - a three (or four) light setup.  

 

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