Keeping it Simple
A friend asked me to take a couple of portraits for her sporting a new hair style. Not next week or next month but now. Hey you have a camera, you take a lot of pictures, how hard can it be? She needed them for something or another, I forget. At first I started to make excuses about the location (her living room), I don’t have any of the stuff I need, the light is no good, blah, blah, etc. When I realized that she was not going to take no, or next week, or some other time for an answer it was time to shift gears into - “how the heck am I going to make a reasonable image with just a camera”. No lights, no reflectors, no stands, no assistant, nothing. Panic set’s in for a couple of milliseconds and then somehow I remembered that I used to make pictures all the time “before I knew what I was doing” with just my camera, and some good luck. At that point I asked my self what do I want this thing to look like? Well, if I had all my stuff what would I do? I know - a nice big soft box sort of in a Rembrandt position. Ok a window will do - luck is on my side - no sun just sky coming in. Now what to do with fill - hmmm, nothing laying around that I can use as a reflector. No problem let’s do it dramatic, let the shadows go black. What do I normally do when I use really dark shadows? I know - create a reverse gradation on the background so that I have light to dark on the subject and dark to light on the background. Cool now how the heck is that going to happen without a light? Got it - use the corner as a background - light comes in the window and hits one wall but stays off of the wall the window is actually on. Move the sofa around a bit, take the art off of the wall. Bingo.
Next time you are coming up with reasons that you can’t make the image you want use it as an opportunity to learn some new tricks. You will be surprised what you can come up with. As a note the corner as a background trick is almost always available and works wonders to give images some dimension, so good that you can use it when you have lighting gear at your disposal as well. Tired of the same old gray background? just light the side of the background opposite that of your main light and adjust the fall-off to achieve a similar if not more refined effect - it works great if you only have two lights.
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