My rule is simple, start with a good a base image and editing will be a breeze.
This blog update will cover capturing the image following on from my last blog update which can be found right here
I suggest a quick recap so this part of the blog will make sense.
Photographing the subject:
So how did I setup the lighting for this image which is straight out of camera? Expensive studio strobes with fancy diffusers, carefully placed panels to direct the light??
The answer is a simple household torch (flashlight for my friends over the pond). I’m guessing that most people reading this post will already have a torch to hand so lets begin.
I found a dark space in my house, closed the curtains, doors etc to make sure that no large light leaks were going to stray into the frame. After I decided where that spot would be I turned on the lights and setup the subject on a black background and a black base of foam. Now this really can be anything black, card, sheet etc and from experience I have found that if you can place your black background a distance from the subject the better it is.
With the subject nicely positioned I setup my camera on a tripod, if you don’t have a tripod you will need to ensure your camera is sitting on a flat surface and use the timer function so you do not need to touch the shutter button. I would recommend the use of a tripod where possible as it will remove the number of blurred shots you might get from camera movement.
Once on the tripod and the subject framed I dialled in these settings which you will need to be in manual mode on your camera:
- Shutter speed 30 seconds
- aperture f16
- ISO 100
Once the settings were dialled in I focused on the subject and switched off the auto focus so the lens will always focus on the same point, once the lights are off the camera will never find focus in the dark…
From this point I took a test shot, I turned off the lights and took the shot, what I was looking for was a totally black image and thankfully that is what I got. If I hadn’t it would have meant that light was leaking in somewhere and I would need to address that before I could carry on.
Now the exciting part which has no science to it at all!! I took the next shot again with the lights off and turned on my torch. I painted the subject with light from the torch and reviewed the image once the 30 second exposure was complete. Now this part really is trial and error but I will list some tips below to help.
- Don’t point the torch in the direction of the lens
- Light the interesting parts of the subject individually and paint the light like you would paint on a brush
- Try using a piece of card rolled up into a cone, place torch into the cone. This will make a more controllable light source much like a snoot
- Paint light at angles, this will bring out all of the textures
- Avoid painting light on to the background unless you want to add a spotlight effect
- Place the subject a distance from the background
- Choose a good subject
- Shoot, shoot and shoot you will get the shot you’re after eventually as you learn the strength and direction the light is having on the subject.
Hopefully the above made some sense and you can see that you don’t need expensive lighting equipment to produce some very pleasing shots.
My next update will cover editing the photo, white balance, how to remove unwanted light on the background, base, cleaning up the image and much more.
Youtube has some interesting videos that will visually show you how to paint light with a torch, try here for a starter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pp1tsPEwYGc