This week was a win-win! Monday was a holiday and my buddy Steve Wood reminded me that there was a working session with Concrete Couch, a local non-profit, making giant mosaic letters for Soda Springs Park. I’m also the Concrete Couch webmaster, so I love it when I can get current photographs of the cool projects the Couch has going. An added bonus was that I could play around with off camera flash. So that’s this weeks project.
The room where we were working had low acoustic tile ceilings and cream colored walls. Most everything I shot used a strobe on a light stand, flagged with a “black foamy thing” so that it primarily bounced off the wall and diffused to provide a softer light on my subjects. I didn’t have to worry much about white balance. If anything, the cream walls gave everything a hint of a warm tone. Here’s a pull-back of one shot to show the diffused texture of the light and the position of the flash. Everything was fired using Pocket Wizards.
The flash was slightly behind the subject at about a 30 degree angle, so some of the spill gave some nice rim lighting for separation.
The problem came when the subjects were closer to the wall when working at a bench that was right up against the wall. It was harder to bounce the light in and give it some direction. In the two frames below, you can see where I first tried bringing the light in from the front, and them from the back. From the front, it was way too flat for my taste and fell off into the background. On the other hand, lighting from the back made the wall and surrounding background go totally nuclear. The backlighting did have the advantage of bringing out texture in the mosaic tiles.
So… what to do??? I wanted to keep the backlighting, I just needed to find a way to narrow the beam of the flash so that it only bounced off of a more compact section of the wall. That turned out to be straightforward by zooming the flash head to its 105mm max, and fitting it with the same homemade snoot I used in the Week 6 blog Up Close and Snooty. The flash stand stayed pretty much in the same position as the nuclear shot, but I pointed it so that the tight beam would hit a little in front of the subject so that it wouldn’t show up in the frame when I shot it. And that’s how I got the shot at the top of this week’s blog. I was very pleased that I could work through this to get something I wanted.
This setup also threw light further down the table and I could actually light more than one person, as seen below, though I do confess to dragging the exposure up +.53 in Lightroom.
Overall, bouncing the light around for the entire shoot really enhanced the texture of the mosaic tiles, even without the snoot. We’ve got lots of great shots to document this phase of the project on the website now!