Slash of Light: Creating Drama with Gobos

Lighting geeks like me love nothing more than watching the way sunlight behaves as it streams through a narrow opening, moves across the sky or scatters into beams of light as it breaks through clouds or strikes the leaves of a tree overhead. It results in unique shapes and patterns. These magic lighting moments give me pause and remind me how powerful light and shadow can be in creating mood and atmosphere.

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Unlimited Background Colors With Gels

You can never have enough background colors to choose from in the studio. The background color that performs perfectly for one outfit, complexion, hair color, makeup style or concept will likely fall flat for another. You can invest in an endless assortment of colored rolls of seamless paper, but at anywhere from $50 to $100 each, this rainbow requires a pot of gold. This month, I show you how to create virtually any color you want without the cost or clutter of seamless paper.

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Product Photography Lighting Basics

We’re all exposed to product photography every single day of our lives, so there will always be a strong demand for it. This month, I take a look at some of the basic concepts of product photography and how to approach lighting and other technical details. Adding product photography to your services can be extremely profitable. But these tips are helpful whether you want to start doing it professionally or just sell some stuff on eBay.

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Reception Lighting 201

It’s understandable why the majority of lighting questions I get from photographers have to do with receptions. Reception lighting is the bane of existence for many wedding photographers. You are shooting fast-moving subjects in low, unbalanced color light without the ability to control or adjust the subjects for better posing. For most receptions, you can follow a few simple formulas to ensure that lighting is consistent and beautiful. Here are our setups.

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Transitioning from Natural Light to Studio Light

There are many parallels between natural and studio lighting and photography. Most people who teach studio photography and lighting don’t teach it from a natural-light perspective. When I tried to learn it all those years ago, it became even more confusing than when I started. The old saying “Light is light is light” applies here. In this article, I break down studio lighting in a way that’s easy to understand, from the perspective of a natural-light shooter who painstakingly learned how to light in a studio.

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Anatomy of a Location Lighting Kit

Deciding which lighting equipment to bring on location is all about striking a balance. The sweet spot is having enough tools to get the job done right and handle any curveballs that come your way. What you want to avoid is bringing so much gear that it becomes burdensome. I’ve done it more times than I care to admit. What you need from one situation to the next differs depending on a variety of factors. This article is a case study about choosing the tools for a location shoot.

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Low-Powered Strobe, High-Powered Results

These two portrait sessions were all about breaking my f16 habit in studio, going in the opposite direction and using extremely low-powered strobe and wide apertures to recapture some of that vintage portrait magic. I used the widest aperture available, f3.5, on my Schneider Kreuznach 150mm LS lens. On a medium-format DSLR, this is equivalent to approximately f1.4. Both subjects were photographed using the same two lighting setups, one with strobe only and one with strobe and constant lights. In each case, the strobe served as the keylight.

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