Monday, December 17, 2012

Fashion-style Christmas Portrait (Updated - with BTS)

The previous week our daughter got sick.  She got well then my wife got sick.  Then my son.  I thought I could dodge a bullet but we got exposed to the cold rain on Friday night, so yes I got sick too, but I think the fever broke last night.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago my wife wanted a "fashion-style" portrait.  I looked at the examples she gave me and I interpreted it to mean slightly edgy portraits.  What tools would you have used for that kind of project?  I'll post the setup I used tonight.

Hit the jump for the setup I used.

We took the shot in our garage which I hastily rearranged.  Here is a shot of the setup:

For the key light, I used a Nikon SB-800 with a beauty dish  (IIRC it's a 17-inch Fotodiox beauty dish).  Whereas a shoot-through umbrella will scatter light everywhere, a beauty dish is much more controlled and has a rapid falloff, which lets me choose what to light and what not to light.  To me, it's somewhere between hard and soft, and it looks more dramatic than some of my other light modifiers.

For the fill light, I thought about using a high highlight-shadow ratio to make it feel edgy, so I just used a 42-inch reflector.

For the background light, I used a Paul Buff ABR800.  Actually I don't usually use it for that purpose.  I could just as well have used the B1600.

For the rim light, I used an SB-800, which I clamped to one of the background stands.

To trigger and control the whole setup, I used a combination of Nikon CLS Advanced Wireless Lighting and the Paul Buff CyberCommander. (I don't like having to go to each speedlight or strobe to adjust the power.)  The SB-800 in the beauty dish was acting as master flash, and was connected to my camera via a TTL cord.  I could have used another SB-800 to control it wirelessly, but if I did that it would have contributed to the exposure and I didn't want that.

To sync the CyberCommander to Nikon AWL, I first tried connecting it to the SB-800 master flash.  Although the ABR800 did fire, it was not syncing correctly, and I could not see the ABR800's light in the shot.  I tried another way, which is to connect the CyberCommander via PC sync to my camera.  Unfortunately since the D600 doesn't have a PC sync port, I was forced to use my Fuji S5 which is my only DSLR with a PC sync port.  Connected that way, the CyberCommander synced properly with the Nikon AWL.

This was pretty much the SOOC shot, with some cropping:
Note that my kids' lower body has much less light than their faces - that's the beauty dish falloff in action.

In post, I decided to add a couple of graduated filters to remove some of the light on the right side and make it look like there is a shaft of light behind them.  I also exported to Lightroom in order to use ShineOff.

Here again is the end result.

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