Friday, December 26, 2008

Available Light Using Strobist Principles

While the Strobist mantra is all about using off-camera flash, what happens when all you are allowed to use is available light? I found myself shooting my church's Christmas Pageant last weekend and while I could use off-camera flash, setting it up was a whole different problem, as the children were moving all the time and coming in and out of the "stage" from different directions. The biggest problem was the lighting in the church, big lamps place in line beaming down at a 90 degree angle. In other words, a lot of kids were going to show up with "raccoon eyes" in the pictures. So here's the step by step problem solving scenario for this type of situation:

Problem 1: What white balance do I use? Too warm and you'll end up with a lot of color correcting in Photoshop, dial it down too much and you'll end up with the same problem. Save yourself some grief and PP time and get an ExpoDisc (Neutral).

Problem 2: Raccoon eyes on the kids from the light source pointing straight down over them. I found the best case scenario was when the kids were looking ahead with their heads tilted up at 15-20 degree angle (as if they were looking for their parents in the crowd). The perfect case scenario was when they were holding sheets of paper to sing their parts. The paper acted as a weak but "better than nothing" reflective source.

Here's the post processed version of the singing angel. Post processing to provide a more "angelical" look was done in PS3 using Nik's Color Efex Pro 3.0:

This is the lighting setup for it, I guess you could duplicate it with a diffused or bare strobe placed right above and slightly in front of the forehead to provide a better bounce on the sheet of paper:
Lighting Setup for Angel

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