We love photographing weddings! And the photographic challenges that come along, like less than ideal lighting, limited time, etc. This is why I love the opportunity to photograph portraits, especially in a studio environment where your imagination is the limit. We always look forward to our Studio and Environmental Portrait Workshops at Samy’s Camera. We teach Wedding Photography at Samy’s LA and Orange County, but so far, our Portrait Workshops have only been at the Orange County Store. We set up a studio environment in the classroom and go over different lighting scenarios starting with one light, and building from there. We also show the use of self contained strobes in an environmental setting. For that we go across the street by the railroad tracks (these tracks are not used on the weekends so we’re safe)
Here’s our basic studio set up with 3 lights. The main light is the large 6’x4′ Chimera soft box; it’s silver lined with one baffle behind the front to better diffuse the light. The studio heads are all Dynalite as are the packs. We use 1000, 800 and 500 Watt power packs. In this case, I did not use a fill light or a reflector opposite the main light. This is because I wanted the light to have direction. You can see how, even without fill, the light from the large box wraps around nicely, especially when the box is feathered. This is a good example of “Short Light”. This would be more apparent if the subject was not wearing a hoodie. The “hair” or separation light overhead is a medium Chimera box with an egg-crate grid. This provides separation from the background and, if the subject was wearing darker clothing, nice rim light. The background light is a Dynalite head with 2 soots and an amber gel on the front attached with a rubber band. The concentrated light goes through a wood gobo to cast random patterns of warm light on to the warm gray muslin background. The resulting image out of the camera is to the right. Below is the same image after quick color correction in Lightroom. Even though we control the lighting, color balance etc., w still shoot everything in RAW mode. A big thanks to our model, he was actually one the attendees at this workshop.
This is the same basic set-up. The hair light is a medium Chimera strip with an egg-crate grid and we are using a silver reflector opposite the main light. This is a different subject and we want a softer fill. In addition to the fill reflector, there is a medium Chimera soft box with a grid at very low power coming down on the subject. This is soft “Paramount” or Butterfly lighting. The image to the right is out of the camera, the one below was corrected in Lightroom and retouched in Photoshop.
This is Kim below, one of our favorite models, also a photographer and a good friend. The background in the next few images is not ideal, but it serves to illustrate the different techniques. Here, the strong sunlight is coming from behind and to Kim’s right. If this image was exposed without the flash, either the background would be blown out, or Kim would be a silhouette. So, we set the camera on manual exposure, with 200 ISO, underexposed the sky to make it more dramatic, and then added the flash. The flash exposure was determined with a Sekonic flash meter and then tweaked to taste. The lens was a 24-70 mm 2.8 at around f/11+and the shutter speed on the Nikon D3s was 1/250th (so we could sync with the flash) The DC (battery) flash unit is a Profoto Acute B 600R probably near full power. The head is in a small Chimera silver lined soft box. The photo to the right is out of the camera, the final image below was tweaked a little. For that we used Kubota’s Lightroom preset, Vividizer.
This is Stephanie, one of our photographer friends who helped us out with this class. Basically the same set up as above, with one difference; we’re using a zoom reflector on the Profoto head for a harder quality of light. This also made the flash more efficient because there is no loss of light as with a soft box. The image below has an “infrared” quality thanks to Kubota’s infrared Lightroom preset.
All the images below were done without flash. They’re all from different Samy’s Portrait classes in OC and LA. Below is a simple translucent overhead panel to keep the hard sun off our subjects, especially with the white shirt, and the fill was provided by the light gravel. The right background density, a large f stop and some exposure compensation (+) made the shot. The final product was retouched in Photoshop.
Below, same location, different day and subject… Here a high angle to avoid the light sky, power lines, etc. and a shallow depth of field worked to give us a nice image. Fill was from a gold/ silver zigzag reflector. I like the leading lines we get from the railroad ties… The last image was retouched in Photoshop using Kubota Image Tools action set.
These last two images were made last week at our Samy’s LA Wedding Workshop. It’s the kind of work we do at an engagement session… It was a crowded park with lots of sunlight. In both images the sun was to our subject’s back. In this first image, there’s a little fill from a white reflector. The long lens (70-200 2.8 at around f/3.2) and the shallow depth of field allow us to separate the subject from an otherwise busy and distracting background.
In this last one, the reflector worked as a flag to keep the hard sun off our subjects. This not only gave us nicer, softer light, but it also gave us a much lighter background (when you expose for the darker faces, the background is rendered lighter). The B&W image was created with a Lightroom preset.
I hope you found this peek behind a few of our Samy’s workshops images helpful! We’d love your questions and feed back!