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Dramatic Profile In Blue | by Michael Tuuk
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Dramatic Profile In Blue

Experimenting with strobes and profiles


The text below makes more sense when reading on the blog with the pictures...


I experimented with some profiles today. I didn't have lofty goals but simply wanted to attempt to recreate a dramatic profile photo I had seen recently. My favorite result is shown above.


The inspiration for my work had been done with fancy studio lights with a huge softbox (at least 3'x5' if not larger). There was essentially unlimited space in the studio which allowed the subject to be far from the background. The black surround on the softbox allowed the light to be prevented from lighting the background at all.


I had some limitations with my setup. I could only get my subject about 2.5' from the background (a yellow wall in my house). With some furniture rearrangement I could have changed that but I'm still not allowed to do much in the way of exertion after my back surgery. I was also limited to a shoot-thru umbrella which allowed plenty of light to spill on the background. Tried flagging it with a blanket…no worky. I have a black cloth somewhere which would have allowed me to shoot into the umbrella, reflect the light, and block most of it from the wall. The key word is "somewhere"…not sure where that cloth is so I had to shoot through the umbrella.


Below is the basic shot I ended up with. The background is lit by the spill from the strobe which had a 1/2 CTO gel on it (ambient was a non-issue at this exposure). I had done a custom white balance before shooting and this shot is straight from the camera.


The shot at the top with the blue background is almost the same shot except that I added a strobe with a 1/2 blue gel on it to light the background. My "assistant" used her hand to prevent the background strobe from directly lighting the subject. This background strobe was set to 1/32 power -- doesn't take much. I stopped down a bit on this shot to get the balance I was looking for between subject and background. I could have kept the same aperture and same main strobe power and moved the background light further back but the furniture was in the way again. Notice how the blue overcomes the natural yellow of the wall completely.


This was all very unscientific and ad hoc. There are so many more variables to play with: Getting the subject away from the background. Moving the subject such that the main light feathers around him differently. Higher key lighting on the background. Using grid spots on subject and/or background. Moving the background light around. Etc., etc., etc. It's kind of fun to experiment. When my back is improved I'll play around with these things more.

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Taken on January 25, 2011