Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lighting For a 'Form' Shoot

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of doing a shoot for a fitness model.  When I posted some shots from the session I had enquiries from friends and fellow photogs for what the lighting setup was...see below if this is of interest to you.

She had spent months in preparation for a competition that was held in Calgary on October 23 and she thought her hard work merited being captured in photographs - and I couldn't have agreed more!  On the day of the competition her muscles were at their prime (that process is an entirely different discussion, but I will say - MAN, it takes dedication!) and so we wanted to make sure we fit the shoot in between the early judging and the main show that evening.

My client was keen to achieve a few different types of shots: gym shots for her portfolio, shots of her in her competition bikini (for her portfolio and for her), and some classy, form shots.  Let me stop here to describe what I mean by 'form', as I am not sure if anyone else uses this as a description!  When I say 'form' I envision that we are going to display parts of the body...these aren't boudoir shots, in my opinion, but rather an opportunity to capture images of the person's physique in an artistic way (well, that's the hope!)  I have nothing against boudoir (think it's pretty coo actually!) but I think there is a differentiation.

In the gym, I wanted to make sure that any other gym members weren't going to 'appear' in the shots - better for everyone - and so we introduced a flash, which my assistant held, and which was being triggered remotely by a set of Pocket Wizards.  This allowed us to capture the client, highlighting her toned muscles and virtually eliminating background distractions.

For her model and form shots I chose a low key approach by using a black seamless paper backdrop and side lighting (side lighting helps accentuate texture by creating shadows).  I thought this lighting and black paper would provide a level of sexiness to our shoot and I also thought that her physique would show up really well against the dark background.  The lighting (all set up on camera right) included a strip light (16"x48" soft box that modifies a strobe) set beside the backdrop and pointed toward the subject's back to create side lighting.  Another strobe with a larger, rectangular soft box was used at about 45° to the subject (as we moved through the shoot the positions varied and, therefore, so did the lighting angles...we used light angles between 30° and 60° to subject and we also varied the height of the light).  Because the subject's hair was very dark I knew that we would want to use a light to help separate her hair from the black backdrop, for this we used a flash which was held above her (above and toward the back of her head so as not to fall on her face at all) by my assistant on the shoot.  Lastly, I did use a large soft gold reflector on the opposite side of the subject to help fill light a little...this technique did not work as well as I'd hoped, but it did help.  In the future I would use a third strobe on low power to do the fill lighting.  The lights were all triggered using a Pocket Wizard on my camera with another on the 580 EXII flash, and the two strobes fired as slaves.

There are many ways to light and I am definitely still on the journey of learning lighting techniques...but if what I tried is of help or interest to you, I'm glad to share!  Please have a look at a few more shots, below, from this session.

Life is good!


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