Monday, January 4, 2010

Creating Sunlight in Studio


In the previous post we discussed about shooting against sun on location. However, photography on location has its advantages and disadvantages. The sunlight is changing constantly, making it difficult to shoot over an extended period of time, and poor weather can often mean that photography has to be abandoned completely until conditions improve. Sometimes, the client doesn't have enough time or budget for a location shoot. For all these reasons, sometimes we need to create sunlight in the studio.


Direct sunlight gives high contrast and colour saturation which gives a natural feel to advertising/fashion photography.  There are several ways to do this with quite a few lighting accessories. One way of emulating sunlight in the studio is by using a small point source light some distance away from the subject, like a bare studioflash or even a bare off camera flash. The bare point light source(only from a distance) gives small, well defined, actual sized shadows that are typical of sunlight. Also, this light increases contrast and saturation.

What we are going to create in this example, is sunlight used as the backlight of the model, filled in with artificial flash light. The technique requires a big studio, however, it can be done in smaller studios, but the light can not be used bare if its too close to the model. The quality of the strobe when used bare and close to the subject is harsh and shadows are distorted. Positioning the light source high with and away from the model, will produce the short, crisp shadows typical of mid-day sunlight, and lowering it will increase the length of the shadow emulating evening sunlight. Take a look at the image below.



Here we wanted to give the effect of the strong afternoon 4pm sunlight. The background of the beach was shot beforehand as part of our stock collection. We knew the sun was on the top left corner and shining brightly. So, we needed a strong light source at the same angle from behind left of where the model was standing. We used a strip box with a single diffuser. Since the spread of the strip box is directional and covers the entire length, we didn't place it that far from the model, as we would have to place a bare strobe. The key light coul be anything, from a mere silver reflector to a beauty dish, soft box, honeycomb grid, umbrella etc. Just imagine yourself shooting at the beach against sun with an external light source. Our choice was a white beauty dish with a silver deflector inside, to give a crisp and contrasty light with fairly soft shadows.

We shot the model on a white background, but since it was not lit, the color was light gray in the image. To see how we extracted the model from the background see our older posts in Photoshop tutorial section.



1 comment:

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