Image breakdown – shooting in horrid lighting conditions

This is the first post in an ongoing series of posts i’ll make talking about how an image is shot.  For this photo, we were in the “Tri-Forums” of Duke Chapel which are the windowless interior hallways.  On the ride side of this photos, there are archways open to the chapel but very little actual light comes thru.  There are very old florescent bulbs in the ceiling space fairly far apart.  In short, it’s dark, really dark and what light there is is inconsistent and poorly colored.  So first, the photo.

So, let’s break this down:

Equipment used

– Quantum T2 Qflash
– Lumedyne Battery pack
– Interfit 24″ square soft box

Shooting Data

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 2.24.29 PM





The setup

– Because of the stairs and time constraints, bringing multiple lights up just was not feasible.
– I did apply a gel to the flash to better match the ambient but liked the feel of B&W better for this photo.
– I took a test shot, without external lighting to dial in the ambient.
– I positioned the light to camera right and hid it in the “archways”.
– Minor photoshopping was needed to remove the light stand leg.
– I used the compositional elements (radiator) to help draw your attention to the couple in the photo.

The shoot

It’s a very narrow spiral staircase to get up to this level so bringing minimal gear was a must.  Also for my engagement sessions I prefer to focus more on the couple and less about technical elements (the majority of the time) so I wanted to do this quick and light.  After getting everything setup (it took about 4 minutes), we worked on my clients posing and interaction.  With having my single light source to the right, I was limited in how much I could turn them without overly shadowing their faces.  I placed the light far enough away to get a good spread of light to allow for a more natural falloff.  As the background was already so dark, I didn’t need to add more drama by bringing my light source in close.


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