Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Nude Bear: Light Fall-off

People are probably thinking, "OMG, he went from shooting models to shooting stuffed bears..." LOL :)

It's just temporary. I need to verify a few lighting techniques and setups before going into my next shoot. As a photographer and retoucher I have to practice. Growth for me comes in periods of exponential growth followed by periods of plateau. To me, the periods of leveling off (plateau) allow me to completely assimilate the knowledge I have accumulated during the periods of torrential learning.

Last week I ended a torrential period of retouching that lasted 2 weeks. This week I'm cycling back to shooting and putting some new tricks in the back as you can see with the experimentation with tile boards.

Today, I'm playing around with fast (yet soft) light fall off. yesterday I saw a picture of a model's body where only half of her body was lit. I was impressed by how well the light was feathered off her body and more importantly, how quickly it fell off the body. The combination of soft light and fast fall-off puzzled me because I'd always had trouble controlling one or the other. Soft light is easy, any light modifier that makes your light source relatively bigger (to your subject) will produce soft light. The problem is that by making your light relatively bigger, you run the risk of spilling all over the entire subject and into the background.

That's where feathering comes in. If you feather the light off the edges onto the subject, then not only will you get soft light but also good control over spill.

But that's not the end of the story.

Light to subject distance is critical here because at "normal" levels of power, the feathering effect isn't going to allow a fast light drop-off. I've done this experiment before and never have I been satisfied with the results, particularly with the light fall-off. Last night (literally while sleeping), I realized that I needed to bring the light in really close to the subject and turn down the power. Remembering the
Inverse Square Law equation, we know that the light fall-off is exponential with distance. By feathering the light, we're using diagonal distance as well as direct exposure to the light source to create fast light fall-off.

At least I think :) Sometimes I think, "Maybe I don't know what I'm talking about..."

We'll let the results speak for themselves. I only did a little retouching to black out the white BG paper that I left up from yesterday since it slightly reflected back some of the softbox. A bit of curves and levels adjustments were made also. Otherwise, the drop-off is apparent on the body while still maintaining good exposure on 1/4 of the bear, which is what I was shooting for.

Camera info: D3/24-70mm f/2.8G @70mm, 1/200th, f/5.6, ISO200

Strobist info: See picture above

Model/wardrobe: Nude Bear

Makeup: Nude Bear

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