Let's Talk Turkey this Thanksgiving morning. One of the most challenging situations even seasoned photographers struggle with is being faced with lighting a small space on location. This is exactly what I found myself faced with recently while creating a cover shot of Dr. Lawrence Bennett, South Sound Radiology, for a Providence 'Clinical Connections' publication. Now I am ALWAYS up for a good challenge but this one upped the ante.
Working this space required a healthy dose of patience as I had precious little room to move around once I chose my camera angle and locked my tripod down...much like an octopus moves about the rocks on the sea floor.
My experience in architectural photography had me looking to light deep-space first (not so deep in this room) and then working back one by one towards the camera. So I decided to set a color splash to complement his shirt for visual impact. For the color splash I used a Cyanish/Bluish Rosco gel (whose actual number has long since worn away) but whose light tone values seemed best along side his dark reddish shirt. I simply call this my series 22-28, Aqua 4, Gel and set it inside the light with a 30 degree grid spot and barn doors to control spread. I metered the gel with my 1 degree spot meter and placed the value around +1 2/3rds stops above our f5.6 midtone value.
A 1/4 second shutter speed was chosen as it provided a good overall screen rendering and subject capture without movement (if he was still and yes there were a few soft takes but most were totally sharp...expected). My key light was a Photoflex MultiDome Q39, Medium Softbox with grids (AC-GRIDM). I love my grids! The grids were the key to working in this small space as they kept light where I wanted it and prevented excess spill and bounced light from contaminating the scene. I also slithered like the Grinch and chased a gaggle of cords up with black gaffers tape to mitigate a problem rather than trying to do it all in post with Photoshop. Good call.
All in all this particular shoot was more like a Limbo dance but In the end, I brought home the goods. And with a quick turn the client was delighted. Mission accomplished. This is what I do. This is my world. No HDR, natural light, nor on-camera flash would have solved this space. Who said professional lighting is dead?? Long live professional lighting!!