Studio Lighting Workshop ~ Pictures and Techniques

Nov 7, 2009 | Flash, Studio | 13 comments

Here are a few of the pictures I took on yesterday’s workshop. I asked Marko to knock them into shape in Lightroom and Photoshop so that I can share some my key picture making thoughts with you.

One light

We explored working with just one light to take simple striking portraits like this one shot against a mid grey paper background. One Broncolor Mobil head in a softbox provided the light.

Marko has kept detail in the shadows in all the photographs in this post, plenty of it. No matter how punchy I want my pictures to get, he maintains the files integrity for me and treats the near blacks with the same importance as the mid tones. However, to contradict my obsession with blacks, I’ve always been a firm believer of the power of white in photographs and for many years I have regularly pushed chunks of my shots into white without concern of holding back detail.

We started the day with a

I started the day by blowing a few myths out of the water. This photograph is as shot in camera. The amazing saturation on the background isn't exactly pretty but it does demonstrate how versatile a grey background is. The colour was created by placing a pink gel on a flash head.

Another gel of a different colour on the same grey background. The luminance of the background is set by the power of the flash. The hue is set by the colour of the gel and the saturation is set by both the density of the gel and the shade of the grey background.

Another gel of a different colour on the same grey background. The luminance of the background is set by the power of the flash. The hue is set by the colour of the gel and the saturation is set by both the density of the gel and the shade of the grey background. I used two 3/4 back lights and a soft key for this shot of Chloe.

Another change of gel and a 2 stop cut in the power of the background flash. I used Bowens Gemini Pro heads for this set up.

Another change of gel and a 2 stop cut in the power of the background flash. I used Bowens Gemini Pro heads for this set up.

The same set up as above. All the shots in this set were taken at ISO 200, 1/125th

The same set up as above. Nearly all the shots in this set were taken at ISO 200, 1/125th second at f/11

?

We had a very colourful shoot session using just our grey background.

Hair and make up play a big part in the final look of studio portraits. Sophie Everett work

Hair and make up play a big part in the final look of studio portraits. Sophie Everett worked behind the scenes to bring style to Lora and Chloe's looks.

I love this simple pose. A shot like this is great for showing off eye make up too.

I love this simple pose.

Cutting flash power to the background light results in a deep low luminance shade. I used 2 kick lights, a soft key and a pair of Lastolite reflectors to light this shot of Chloe.

Cutting flash power to the background light results in a deep low luminance shade. I used 2 kick lights, a soft key and a pair of Lastolite reflectors to light this shot of Chloe.

I like to match colours in photographs so I chose a peach gel from my box of nearly 60 shades for this shot of Lora.

I like to match colours in photographs so I chose a peach gel from my box of nearly 60 shades for this shot of Lora.

If it wasn't my grey paper background it was my grey 'Fat Boy' bean bag that filled the frame. Shades of grey and local contrast are vital elements in the making of fine prints.

If it wasn't my grey paper background it was my grey 'Fat Boy' bean bag that filled the frame. Seemingly infinite shades of grey blending seamlessly and with local contrast at the fine detail level produce super files to print. Click on the image to download the high res file of this shot and see what I mean. The exif data is in tact so you can see my settings etc.

Chloe is like an angel in this picture. I used just one light for this shot.

Chloe is like an angel in this picture. I used just one light for this shot.

Once we had covered the syllabus topics of hard light, soft light, contrast, exposure, balancing lights, reflectors and flags, it was time to move on to more interesting concepts. We were discussing various images in my 'look book' and came across one with mottled lighting. I looked around the room and saw a potted plant that would fit the bill for this shot. This kind of frame is not new to me but I thought it worth sharing.

Once we had covered the syllabus topics of hard light, soft light, contrast, exposure, balancing lights, reflectors and flags, it was time to move on to more interesting concepts. We were discussing various images in my 'look book' and came across one with mottled lighting. I looked around the room and saw a potted plant that would fit the bill for this shot. This kind of frame is not new to me but I thought it worth sharing. Lit with 2 Broncolor Mobil lights and a Speedlight on a Pocket Wizard in the cube. One Mobil head was bare faced and shone through the plant onto the background and the other was in my 'Wafer 140' softbox on Lora.

This is a 100% crop of the shot above

This is a 100% crop of the shot above. 2 Mobil heads and a soft box are fantastically powerful tools when used together.

This shot breaks all the rules but I love it. The way we see and print our photographs has to be unique and the as far as I am concerned, if it looks good it is good.

This shot breaks all the rules but I love it. The way we see and print our photographs has to be unique and the main rule as far as I am concerned is 'if it looks good it is good'.

One last shot to share with you. I shot this against the same grey background as the shots above and I added a hint of fill light with a flash bounced off the wall behind me. I used the fill sparingly but it is there and is vital in my opinion.

One last shot to share with you. I shot this using two Bowens Gemini pro monoblocks against the same grey background as the shots above and I added a hint of fill light with a flash bounced off the wall behind me. I used the fill sparingly but it is there and vital in my opinion.

This was my last studio lighting workshop at Imagist Studios. From now on my studio training will be held at my own newly updated studio and limited to just 4 delegates per day. We will have a pro model and a make up artist to ensure we have the chance to capture top flight images. My studio is warm and well equipped. It has over 10 backgrounds available (including grey) so our image making opportunities are endless. If you want to learn how to light portraits join me for the day. The details are here.

Please feel free to comment on the pictures or your experience of the day if you were a delegate.

13 Comments

  1. Chris Alford

    Hello, Damien I was thinking of buying some studio lights to use in a spare room at my house and I was worried that a sudden surge of power from say a flash with 500 watt could cause the electric to go out when I plug int o the mains..

    Should I speak to an electrician before buying? I heard High powered strobe lights have a tendency to trip circuit breakers which get confused by the sudden surge of power. Please reply. Thanks Chris.

    Reply
    • damien

      Hi Chris,

      Buy decent new lights and you will be fine. Old (last century) flash units often had a chassis leak current of more than 30mA and this used to take out trip switches. Nowadays all main brand studio flash units are safe to use and will not put strain on your electrical circuits. If in doubt consult an electrician and if you buy secondhand have the units PAT tested by your electrician before use.

      Kindest regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
  2. Mark Betts

    Lovely to see what can be done with just one light a grey background and a few gels.

    Would be interested in attending a studio session soon.

    Mark

    Reply
    • damien

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for your kind words. I’m running a studio lighting workshop on Tuesday 8th December at my studio. It is limited to just 3 shooters so it will be the best event yet. Details are here.

      I really hope you can make it. Regards, Damien.

      Reply
  3. Sean Gannon

    Damien,

    Great work as always and great to see studio work for the winter. Having just opened a studio as we couldn’t always shoot lifestyle, this is a great inspiration.

    Sean

    Reply
  4. Carole Kelly

    Love these Damien, really want to come and do your workshop on the 8th now, will check my diary : )
    Loved your big flash in the country work shop

    Reply
  5. damien

    Hi Douglas, I’m glad you enjoyed the workshop. I did too. As you say, sometimes the best shots are the simplest to take.

    I look forward to spending a day with you shooting portraits on the streets soon.

    Regards, Damien.

    Reply
  6. Douglas Craig

    Hi Damien,

    Just wanted to say thanks for a great day last Thursday. The images are fantastic, learned loads and really enjoyed it. Still can’t get over what you can do with a single light! I’ll definitely have to go on one of your street shooting courses now!

    All the best,

    Douglas

    Reply
  7. damien

    Hi All, Thanks for your kind words.

    I have put on a Studio Lighting workshop on Tuesday 8th December that will be limited to just 3 photographers and take place at my own studio. This will ensure we get the chance to shoot a lot of unique pictures and use a greater variety of backgrounds. We will have a pro model and make up artist at our disposal all day.

    In 2010 my studio workshops will be limited to 4 delegates and will be followed by an optional Marko Masterclass to edit the studio pictures.

    If you are interested in the 2010 events email Blaise here or call her on 01275 853204. And she will ensure you get first notice of new dates or she may even schedule the events around your diary, it has been known.

    Kind regards, Damien.

    Reply
  8. Nick

    Great article this and I really know just how much I need to get on one of your studio lighting workshops now…

    Reply
  9. Iain King

    Hi Damien,

    Loving the use of gels on the grey background (need to break out my gels and put them into some new studio shots I think) and also the use the plant in the shot with the cube. As always, your images are a good source of inspiration.

    Thanks, Iain

    Reply
  10. Chris

    love the 3 stops over Lora shot, bet it’ll look good in mono too. Top make up too.
    C

    Reply
  11. Ian Pollen

    Hi Damien, great demonstration of the grey background’s versatility. Oh and great shots too ;-)

    I love the speedlight in the perspex cube technique, that really is thinking outside the box… or is it inside :-)

    Regards, Ian

    Reply

Ask a question or leave a comment. All comments get a reply.