Saturday, May 15, 2010

The desert revealed

In "Things to do in the desert" I posted 5 pictures and at the end of the post asked, "Can you guess how lit each picture?"

The answer to each might surprise you!

The first 2 of Melissa are strictly ambient. There were no reflectors. Just lots of diffused light bouncing around in the abandoned house that we shot in.

The next two of Lyz (B&W and first color picture of Lyz) were lit with a single AB1600 in a 7" reflector from about 7-8 feet away. The highlights on the front of her legs reveal this light source while the shadow reveals that the sun was at the 1 or 2 o'clock position relative to the camera creating a strong backlight. The power on the strobe was turned up and using a small aperture (around f/22) and 1/200th of a second (max sync speed) we stopped down the ambient (sunlight) enough to create some contrast. This also resulted in the sharpness of the background

The last shot of Lyz (color picture) was shot with only ambient. This was okay because the white fur could fill some of the shadow on the short side of her face. If we had tried this with the leopard/spotted fur jacket, it might not have worked as well. Or, it might have worked equally well because the light was bouncing off the desert sand.

Those who guessed beauty dish are pretty much on the money because I use the BD so often, but it wouldn't fit in the Prius with all the other stuff we were hauling. Plus, it's just a hassle to setup compared to the 7" standard AlienBees reflector. The quality of the BD vs the 7" reflector isn't off by much.

Reflectors in the desert were impossible that day due to the gale-force winds!


  1. Howdy Charles,

    At least I was right about the aperture at f/22 :) I think I underestimated the intensity of the sun out in the desert. I could have sworn you used at least some kind of reflector for that first shot of Melissa because of that shadow on the wall. It's weird that that was just a stain in the wall that happened to conform to her body position crouched on the ground. Man, it must have been super bright for that shot to be completely ambient indoors. That sun must have been bouncing all over the darn house :)

  2. The house had no windows, doors and was missing some walls. The afternoon sun was definitely coming in through the window (hole in the wall) behind Melissa.

    That said, I think that "spot" is a shadow. There must have been some fill from a nearby wall. I exposed for her face which caused the backlight to blow out and flare. There really wasn't much fill provided by the wall though. Light was definitely bouncing all over the place :)