Saturday, January 10, 2009

Creative Lighting

f/5.6 at 1/160 sec. ISO 100

I am a huge fan of Joe McNally and after I saw the latest Nikon DVD entitled "A Hands On Guide to Creative Lighting", I just had to go out and try some of his techniques. If you haven't seen this video and are a Nikon shooter interested in using off-camera flash, than this is highly recommended.

In the video Joe demonstrates what you can do by using various White Balance settings and gelled flashes. My favorite example was where he had a ballerina jumping in front of window using the Tungsten White Balance setting and a CTO gelled flash. The light from the window turned a gorgeous cool blue and the CTO gelled flash added a rich warm color to the ballerina.

So with that in mind, a few friends and I got together at Mellwood Arts Center in Louisville, Kentucky to just goof around taking photos. There is this hallway that has a glass wall that connects two sections of the building, with one wall being entirely made up of glass windows. I've shot at this spot before and knew this would be perfect for what I wanted to do. A good friend of mine, Kim (and also a fantastic photographer), volunteered to model for us other shooters. She was wearing this huge, poofy pink dress and looked like a million bucks!

I had her stand in front of the window and I took a meter reading on the background to get my ambient exposure. Then I positioned an SB-800 with two full CTO gels on it, off to camera right at half power. Then I set my White Balance to Tungsten (also called Incandescent). The reason I used two full CTO gels is that one CTO would just start to bring my model back to a 'normal' looking white-ish light against my blue background. By adding another CTO gel, I was able to warm up the model a bit and not have the light so white looking. By using a Tungsten White Balance setting, I was able to make the background appear blue.

I took a test shot, then Kim started spinning and dancing around!!! Its so nice to have a model that knows what its like to be behind the camera. She really knows how to pose and bring out the best in a shoot.

These were really fun to do and I absolutely loved the results. Kim was also a great model and fun to work with.

For a related article on using color correction gels, try this post on the Strobist blog.

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