Speedlights And The Shirt

Before I go about my business tomorrow and forget here's a placeholder post for a more thourough discussion on TrickyShit™ when using speedlights or for that matter any hard light source. I was going to put up a post on props and wardrobe and mood but then Patrick Laroque was kind enough to give me a shout-out on his excellent blog with some fantastic images that he made during his winter doldrums. So instead I figured I would kill two birds with one post. The shirt and some TrickyShit™ that I promised I would chat about after fooling even Patrick - a very accomplished camera wielder with a simulated sunlight shot.

First off - the shirt. Way back when I was in some kinda mood I bought a shirt that is just not me. It's super comfy. Unfortunately it only looks appropriate if I happen to be quite literally strolling around in a banana republic. Not the store - more like Barbados or something. Looks great when I am in the deep Caribbean but just way off in the real world. Turns out it's a great prop for female subjects. It just looks exactly like a guy shirt should look on a girl. It photographs really well because of the way it lays and the textural and reflective characteristics of the fabric. It's a linen and silk blend of some sort.

I have used this for that morning after kinda feel on more photos than I care to remember. First time was an accident. Turned out great - now it's a regular prop for that kinda mood. I have no idea how I am going to replace it when it gets too ratty or lost. Check it on that shoot from last week. Instant morning kinda ambiance without looking too too ratty…

I guess the point is - try stuff. A lot will not work but something will. Sometimes things that are not intuitive can completely change a photo in just the way you are looking for but could not quite plan on before you actually see it. Fool around this is supposed to be fun. Every once in a while you'll stumble across things by accident that you will use over and over or do in a different way or with a twist. Just another thing to put in the bag of tricks.

Obviously the shot at the top features The Shirt in a staring role vs a supporting role. Here is the killing of the second bird. Since I had to make some sort of StupidCrap™ shot of just the shirt I made it using the TrickyShit™ that I chatted with Patrick about earlier today.

Hold on to your hats… That was shot with speedlights not sunshine. I did it in two seconds right before I ate dinner. I will try to walk you through it real quick and promise that I will go into a bit more detail soon as quite a few people have told me this kind of thing is useful to them and gives 'um some new ideas. Here is the what the shirt looks like with ambient to level set this whole deal…

I am not trying to be facetious. It's important to see that there is no ambient. If I can I will definitely use ambient to produce the fill. In most cases it's daylight so that's easily doable. When I made this it was dark hence I had to bring the shadow levels up a bit so it would look like real sunlight in a medium sized light colored room. Here is what I choose for fill…

As you can see - not a whole lot. You can probably go a stop to a stop and a half more while maintaining a similar look to real world sunlight to fill ratios when sun is streaming through a window into a light colored room. Much higher and it will ruin it. It's coming from the opposite direction - 180 degrees from where my simulated sun is going to come from. I try to keep it off the ceiling as that's not where fill comes from with natural sunlight coming through a window. I kept my flash low and very wide. I just sat it on a low table that was to camera right like this…

The TrickyShit™ is that sun looks way better when it comes through some sort of aperture that turns it into a shaft and then smashes into other crap or vice-versa. In this case here is how I made a shaft as if it were coming through an aperture commonly known as a window and here is what I smashed it into…

There are eight thousand ways to do this and I have improvised using some fairly curious crap. I swear I dig through crap in my garage before I leave for a shoot just to see what I might use to bang my lights into prior to hitting a subject. You see what it looks like at the top. Here's another from a slightly different angle and a slightly different fill ratio. I shot this as a test shot while I was fiddling with the position of the key and the stuff it was smashing into. That's actually the tricky part and takes some amount of practice so that you look like you know what you're doing when using it on a job.

Trust me - practice on a shirt and a bunch of other StupidCrap™ before you attempt to use this on a client or on a job. I will go into some more details and a bunch of tips soon but I could write volumes on this subject and still not do it justice.

RB

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