As a photographer, it is necessary to analyze what is really going on below the surface and utilize lighting that communicates this mood, feeling or message.
These well-toned muscles are the result of many hours spent sweating and grunting in the humid, odorous high school weight room. Flat lighting would not do the subject justice since it would minimize the lines and curves of the muscle sets. Give credit where credit is due by adding a back light to accentuate the hard, strong look and portray a more dramatic image.
Canon 5D Mark 2, Canon 24-70 L lens, Alien Bee lights with umbrella bounced left of camera and through a softbox from behind subject and to the right of frame. Converted to black and white with bronze god Kubota Action added.
Is the image perfect? No. I am never totally satisfied with an image and always analyze to see what I could have done to improve it. I’d maybe add two back lights from each side and one front flash a little to one side. Or, add a little fill with a large reflector to bring a little definition to the torso. Hmmm…
Below we see the final results of off camera flash edited with Kubota Actions in Photoshop CS5. I like how the lighting from behind accents the “guns” which are the result of many hours in the weight room. The rusty stairway frame on the side of the old Legion hall adds to the texture and character of this shot.
How is this done? Below we see the original, straight out of the camera shot…
Utilizing a pose that used this muscle set, I had the subject flex his muscles to accentuate the hard tone. Dad is holding an off camera Canon 580 EX2 off camera flash set at ETTL, triggered with Pocket Wizards. F2.8, 1/250, ISO 200. Front was lit by available light only.
In Photoshop CS5 I added the Bleach Mike Kubota action.
Removed Dad but left the flash. I think it adds a special “spark” to the image. Another option is to remove the flash of light, as well, to not compete with the subject. Cropped a little, as well.
Hmmm… maybe black and white would look good.Bronze God Kubota action. This is my favorite black and white action. I have found it best to desaturate the image first before applying the action.
Considering light, whether it be available or flash, as a paint and brush on canvas is where you begin to think like an artist. Experiment and learn through trial and error. You may be surprised to find an artist inside of you, too!
A challenge/annoyance when working with back light is the blown-out sky that results from exposing for the subject. Blah, washed out results can make for a dull image. Off-camera flash to the rescue to add a little drama to the subject at hand.
A Boy and his Pickup
The above portrait is available light only. Flash did not fire. Sometimes the soft lens flare look is one I want, depending on the subject. I wanted a strong, vibrant look for this situation so the lighting above does not match my goals for this portrait.
A Man and his Truck
For the portrait above I used 1 Canon Speedlight on ETTL triggered by Pocket Wizards about 6 feet or so from camera right and about 8 feet from subject. I had the flash on a light-weight light stand held by an assistant (Mom) and moved it when necessary for correct effects. I was able to keep detail in the sky and rim lighting on subject is from the late day sun. F11 at 1/200 ~ ISO 160 ~ 5D Mark 2 ~ Canon 70-200 IS L lens
I often like a shallow depth of field for portraits, but in this case I also wanted the truck in sharp focus. High speed sync would have been something to consider to allow a wide open aperture, but this aperture seems to work fine for now.
The image below is an example of off camera flash during the day using a pocket wizard and 1 Canon Speedlight flash. The image was captured around 4:30 on a warm, sunny, summer afternoon on the shaded side of the building. My lovely assistant (AKA his mom) holds the flash set at +2 about 8 feet to the left of the subject or camera right.