In this SOOC shot, you can see just how down and dirty this setup was. The backdrop is not pulled out very far and taped down only in a couple of spots. In the top left edge of the image you can see the corner of the 50 inch Apollo. This also shows that the right edge of the light is hitting the subject, allowing for a soft feathered look, but more importantly for this setup, it's allowing the rest of the box to light our background.
It may be our summer issue but winter isn’t all that far off (sorry), and with White House Custom Color’s Through the Woods backdrop, you can put your subjects in a Robert Frost-esque scene without the frostbite. Like the other backdrops in WHCC’s collection, this one is made of wrinkle-free, 100 percent polyester fabric. It’s sold in either 10 x 8-feet or 6 x 8-feet sizes.
Even shooting on location you can achieve some background lighting magic. The sun moves around throughout the day — think east to west as well as dawn to dusk. Analyze what time of the day the sun will project the light on your subject at the desired angle. Note: Hard light (direct sun) will create darker shadows while diffused light (cloudy overcast) will create softer shadows.
The Julius Studio background curtain set features an aluminum alloy construction to ensure durability and portability, and photo clams made of synthetic nylon to provide a strong grip and prevent the canvas from slipping out. Another great thing is that it’s adjustable in width (5-10.3 ft) and height (2.6 -7.5 ft). In addition to this, the set includes quality sandbags for stability.
In the shot above I used a two light setup. The main light, camera left, is a Profoto D1 1,000Ws head inside of a 50 inch Westcott Apollo Softbox. While the idea of mixing what is considered to be a high-end strobe with a budget softbox my not sit right with some, I find the indirect lighting source from a Westcott or Photek to give a really nice and even light. The 60 inch Photek Softlighter, which I also enjoy using, may only cost $95 but gives a really nice, soft, and even light. If these lower cost indirect sources are good enough for the likes of Mario Testino and Annie Leibovitz, then they are good enough for me. Clay Cook did an great article on these lighting sources, "Lighting Like Leibovitz," that you can find here.
For a dramatic or edgy appearance, go with low-key lighting. Low-key lighting also focuses attention onto your subject by surrounding them in shadows instead of light. To do this, you want to ensure that your solid black backdrop is at least 3 stops darker than the light on your subject. With low-key lighting, you also need to ensure that none of the light from your subject is hitting your backdrop. Grids and flag are very helpful for this.
What this tells us is that the further away the light source is from the subject and backdrop, the more likely we are to get an equal exposure from one to the other. The quality of the light source can also change with distance. You will notice that as the light gets further away it becomes a harder light with less transitional values. Also, if the subject appears to be further away from the backdrop in the last image, it's due to me needing to use a shorter focal length (zoom out) to avoid getting the softbox in the shot. The shorter focal length exaggerates perspective.
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