Different Light Modifiers and their Results

Studio lighting can be a confusing beast for those looking to dip their toe in it for the first time. Flash guns and flash modifiers always seem to be rather linear.

Although this video doesn’t go through a great many light modifiers (beauty dishes, grids etc.) it is a nice introduction to the most common modifiers and what they can do. So if you’re interested in learning the basic applications of light modifiers in a studio setting, this video could be of use to you.

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Peter Hurley on Illuminating the Face on Location

I have featured Peter Hurley’s videos and tips before and I am sure I will do it again in the future. He is a superb portrait photographer and a confident orator which makes listening to his advice nice and straightforward. Peter is also — as an aside — a master of marketing himself and his work which is something I am consistently in awe of.

This video tutorial shows a few photoshoots on location and Peter talks through the lighting set up, the camera settings and how manipulating the holy trinity (ISO, aperture and shutter speed) can affect the resulting images. It’s a nice tutorial, albeit the advice is probably of most use to newer photographers. Unfortunately for those newer photographers, a lot of the equipment used in the shoot is high-end and therefore expensive. Fear not, however, as most of the lighting arrangements in these shoots could be somewhat replicated with speed lights, umbrellas or softboxes and reflectors.

My primary motivation for sharing and writing about this video is not the technical tips offered. It is Peter’s direction of the shoots. If there is anything new and veteran photographers alike can take away from watching behind-the-scenes footage of Peter, it is how he orchestrates his shoots. He immediately builds rapport with the model and puts them at ease which has almost endless benefits. He encourages the model’s creativity with poses and ideas and creates and back and forth with them by showing them the successful images. It is very difficult to strike the fine balance between over-directing and stifling the model and under-directing to the point where the shoot’s merits are largely at the mercy of the model’s talent. Peter seems to walk the line between the two almost flawlessly.

It may not be the shortest of videos in an age of instant gratification, but there is a lot to be taken away from observing a highly successful and proficient portrait photographer behind the scenes and well worth your time.

The Making of: Vogue Japan’s Special Edition by Mario Testino

I featured Mario Testino at the end of March this year with his brilliant behind-the-scenes video of how he created Vogue China‘s special edition images. Now it’s time to travel east across Asia for his ‘making of’ video of Vogue Japan‘s special edition images.

It’s rare that a photographer of Testino’s calibre would give such a comprehensive insight in to his work flow for such an important project. However, even more surprising still, Testino gives a comprehensive insight in to his creative process; from research and conception to communication with  the editors and then finally the execution.

There is something very pleasing about how Testino begins such an important shoot: he roams the relevant location to drink in the culture and buries his face in books to develop an early concept. All the while, he is snapping away with a small point and shoot camera with the intention of using the images as a medium for communicating his ideas with Vogue’s editors.

The results of his shoots are exceptional and are certainly an advert for the importance of preparation.

Light Modifiers for Portraits Without Breaking the Bank

The discussion of photography equipment being expensive and not always necessary is hardly an untrodden path; I’ve even had several articles on the topic myself. However, the reason I continue to push videos and articles regarding the ‘not always necessary’ part is because so many photographers — particularly less experienced ones — fall in to the trap. A trap I fell in to myself.

This video from Good Light Magazine shows how you can use a simple shopping bag as a light modifier for an off-camera flash. It isn’t a new technique; people have been using all sorts of bizarre light modifiers for years. However, the video’s worth is in the quality of the results it shows you.

So, go and try out some bizarre household objects to alter your light for portraits. I have used an A3 white piece of paper as a reflector, a bed sheet as both a modifier and a backdrop (lit with a second flash) and a black duvet cover as a backdrop and to absorb light on low-key portraits.

Resource Magazine Cover Shoot: Behind the Scenes

It has been a while since I have posted a behind the scenes video of a photoshoot. This is primarily because the lion’s share of BTS videos are overly arty and end up being moving versions of the images from the shoot itself. If you’re lucky, you’ll be presented with a one second glimpse of the makeup being applied prior, but as a curious photographer they are usually little more than inspiration.

Resource Magazine’s BTS video of their cover shoot with the cast of Brooklyn Nine-Nine  is not one of those. The location is enviable and so are the props (they’re in a Hollywood studio after all), but how the shoot was produced and directed is clear to see. The photographer — Natalie Brasington — is clearly very experience and orchestrating large shoots and her commentary in the video is very helpful with regards to lighting in particular. All in all, it’s well worth eight minutes of your time.

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