||I like to
say that the second or (better yet) the third session I
have with a model is my favorite. The thinking is
that my first sitting with a model is just for getting
acquainted. It's a bit strange but I tend not to
feel like I know what a model looks like until I
photograph her myself. By the second or third
session, I start to devise concepts specifically for
Not so today. On this day, I
was experiencing the photographic equivalent of
"writer's block". I just had no ideas for Tiana.
Make no mistake -- Tiana is a world class
traveling model. I don't want to talk for her, but
she, too, was distracted this session: she was
just days away from a cross-country move to a new city,
and she was about to start a transition from modeling to
photography. Her modeling career has been a lot
longer than most models. Still, transitioning to
another (albeit related) field can't be easy. For
what it's worth,
she is a wonderful photographer.
So, I fall back on
"getting acquainted" thinking. In particular, when
I don't have a specific concept in mind, I fall back on
trying out an unusual lighting scheme, and I conceived
this one, with the main light being a little harsh &
positioned behind & to the side of the model with a
softer fill light on the other side.
I was (and still am) inspired
by the master impressionist painters. Every look
at the masters? They are all about light.
They light faces in unusual but natural ways, and that
can be captivating. As a photographer, I look at a
big lot of photographs, but many images have "standard"
lighting. It's a good thing to stray away from the
standard & try to emulate the masters.
I'm glad I tried it, but
I can't say that I like it. I was trying to create
shadows across the figure, and I achieved that. I
like how the shadows add depth to the image, especially
of Tiana's figure. However, it is not a good look
for lighting a face. And I could have balanced the
exposure a bit better.
So, overall, I don't like
this picture. However, when I applied the "paint
brush" artistic effect on this image (see below), the
part that I don't like (the light on Tiana's lovely
face) becomes less important, and the overall structure
of the image (and how it was lit) is revealed. The "paint brush"
version is a big favorite of all my "artistic effects"
images -- indeed, it could be my favorite, and a print
of this image is hanging on my wall.
||Here is an exercise in
cropping. Cropping is an old habit of mine and it is
ingrained into my "process". I am always looking for
the central "essence" of an image, In this case, I
thought the "essence" included the musculature of Tiana's
shoulders & shoulder blades, so I cropped the image there
Cropping goes hand-in-hand with
composition, and I do like "off-center" compositions.
See the pictures after the cropped image below.
still have the sense that the lighting is not quite
right. I add a light pointed at the back wall,
just so the shadow that defines the right side of the
image (or Tiana's left side) gets better defined.
I hate shadows disappearing into other shadows (which
often happens in one-light setups) -- I'll always do
something to define the shape of the non-lit side.
I like this light, but it doesn't "fix" the face
lighting. But it's important to try different &
new things & trying to make them work.
If I may pat myself on my back, I'm glad
Tiana & I persisted with this setup. It wasn't
overly satisfying at first -- I especially didn't like
the light on the face, but we've made some significant
- I didn't like the light on Tiana's face
when she was facing
towards the camera! That's easily
address -- I asked Tiana to face towards the light
- Adding the light on the back wall
balanced the overall lighting well.
I like this image.
look at a big lot of images, every day. Not
surprisingly, most are "average", in my opinion, and what
makes them "average" often is the absence of shadows.
There is something more "elevated" in these images.
More often than not, it is the presence of shadows that
define shape & depth in an image.
I got to say
that I hate those images that look like light was
haphazardly thrown in until the camera decides that there's
enough light to make an exposure. Sure, when working
with natural light, you have to take what's available & make
minor adjustments. But when you are working in the
studio, you are crafting light.