01.20.11 Lights – Camera – Book!

The instruction book that is.  Yup, I’ve been in a camera rut, shooting with the same settings all the time, and not always getting the results you’d hope for.  So on the advice of my friend Sarah Minkiewicz I dusted off the camera’s instructions.  Wow, I’d forgotten quite a bit about the features of the cute little peashooter (a four-year-old Pentax Optio A30).  A couple of obliging mules were rounded up for a much needed practice session.
In a studio lighting workshop last year I learned that studio photographers often do not point a light directly at their subject.  Yes, that’s counter-intuitive, but you get a softer lighting effect using the edge lighting from a parabolic reflector.  Two separate lights give you a tremendous range of lighting effects and control.
The beauty of a digital camera is that you can watch the way the light changes in real time on your camera’s screen.  Often I’ll hold a light in my left hand, move it around the set area while watching the camera screen to find those lighting sweet spots.  The tricky bit is focusing and shooting one-handed — do you remember the childhood party game, Twister?  Yes, it feels just like that.
Here’s a series of light experiments:
Single source of light from left; ambient light from the right.

Same single source of light from left; second source from right directly behind Iko, but pointed about a 90º angle away from him.
Same single source of light from left; second source from right and brought to the front a bit and pointed at a greater angle away from Iko
Same single source of light from left; second source from front left, elevated.
It’s interesting to see how positioning the lights differently can make such a big change in how you perceive the piece.  Now to be bolder in experimenting with camera settings (and more diligent in taking notes about those settings!)

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2 thoughts on “01.20.11 Lights – Camera – Book!

  1. marianne

    ah yes- the challenge of properly photographing the art! thanks for the rerminder- the little cameras do quite well when the photographer pays attention 🙂

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