About a month ago or so I was shooting a model for a personal portfolio shoot. We went into the studio for a series of shots that I had thought about, sketched out and planned prior to the shoot. It was a great, full day of shooting this gorgeous woman. I had seen a recent post on The Slanted Lens about changing white balances and I thought I would try my hand at it based on memory from reading that post and seeing that video.
One of the shots I had planned incorporated a nice window with sheer curtains. However, we were shooting at around 11am and I knew the light would be very bright and overpowering when coming through the window and I wanted a darker, night time look to the image to create more of an elegant, moody scene.
What to do...?
I could over power the light coming in with my massive Elinchrom Rangers
and try to darken up the area with a really high aperture and strong lights but then I would run the risk of blowing out my model too in order to make the scene work. Or, I could just use the natural light coming through the window for the shot. But neither of those sounded great to me and didn't make for an interesting image.
So I chose OPTION #2!
The camera is on AUTO white balance here and while the image is not bad and looks nicely balanced it's just not as interesting as I would like.
Option 2 was to change the white balance on my D3s to a TUNGSTEN white balance in order to turn the white light coming through the window to blue and make it look more like a night scene than a day time scene to make a more interesting shot. This shot shows how I took the light from day light to night without all the lights in place on the model. If you look very carefully on the right on the image you can see my assistant, Judy, moving the curtains and getting everything ready for the shot.
Changed the white balance from AUTIO to TUNGSTEN to get this look and start to make the image more interesting and colorful.
VOILA! There's the shot and look I am going for here. Something as simple as changing the white balance can completely alter a scene like it did here. Even though the lights are not in place and adjusted I already have a more interesting scene that can now be built with lighting,
It should be noted here that in order to make this shot work I need to add a CTO to any of the lights hitting the model (Key and Rim). If I were to use my strobes "as is" the color of her skin would be way off and she would look just as blue as the background. In order to make this happen I placed a full CTO gel on the rim and key lights to ensure her skin tones are preserved and to create a nice separation from the scene. I prefer to use these Rosco Color Corrections Gels
but you can find large size CTO/CTB gels at most photography retailers.
The lighting set up here was pretty simple and I will provide a diagram at the end of this paragraph. All I used to get the desired effect were two lights since I had an abundance of window light coming through to camera right and creating a nice, but subtle rim light on the model's left shoulder. More importantly, I used that light to do the heavy lifting for me by lighting the scene. Because I had so much light coming in from the window I could concentrate all of my lighting efforts on the model. The light modifiers used were a Calumet medium softbox
(30" x 40") with a Grid
placed to camera right and a Westcott Bruce Dorn Strip Bank
with 2/3 of the light flagged off so that only the top 1/3 of the light would directly light the back of the model's head and shoulder on her right side set behind the model on camera left. This was so that the strip bank acted more as a really small softbox than a strip bank for my desired effect. The last piece was a 48"x72" Scrim Jim Large White Reflector
used to fill in shadows on her right hand side.
Here's the diagram
The lighting diagram from the shoot.
And, after a little touch up in Photoshop to eliminate a gap in the wall by the curtains and cloning in the foliage outside to window so that it covered the entire window I pretty much had a finished image. I did do a little retouching to the face - very little retouching needed here though. Other than that, there was very little extra work done here because I was able to get the lighting precise and controlled after planning for this shot and visualizing the shot well in advance.
Here's the final image processed with the lighting set up chosen for this shot. The clients were extremely happy with this shot and, frankly, so am I. Better look all around.
I hope this inspires you to try this trick outdoors as well as indoors so you can create a mood within the photo and not just settle for what the light is giving you. We have the power to control most every element of light when we pick up the camera by changing color, look and feel right within the camera so that we don't have to spend too much time in Photoshop.
Until next time,
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