March 31, 2010

Short Stack: Found Off-Camera Lighting

Ok, as promised, here’s a short little pancake sessions (a short stack…get it? :) on that crazy off-camera lighting we were using to get some of those shots like these two:

Contrary to what you might have imagined, it wasn’t some crazy-technical flash set up complete with a key grip and a boom boy or whatever you call them. Ok, so I’m probably the only one who imagined that, but how cool would it be to have your own key grip for real life? I like it. I’m gonna have to work on that.

Nope, it was REALLY off-camera! Our crazy off- camera light was actually provided by this:

The pendant lighting at Starbucks! I told you I loved that place!

I think some of the coolest lighting out there is what we call “found light.” Think street lamps, Christmas lights, marquees. Well there just so happened to be a Starbucks in the lobby of the hotel and they were closing up, but they left the lights on a little longer just for us. No other flash set up was used. Justin placed the subjects (our awesome clients Sonia & Pankit and their family) in front of that column you see there because it did cool things with the light gradient left to right and it made for a nice background. Then he had everyone stand so the light was directional (coming in from the left and slightly to the front) and exposed for the highlights using spot metering. That’s it. Took about 5 minutes and they turned in to some of our favorite shots from the day.

So….spread the love. What are some of YOUR favorite found lighting sources/stories?

  1. jessica

    that is awesome! thanks for the tips!

  2. Amy Clifton

    Shut the front door!! Go Starbucks. Those portraits are amazing…thanks for sharing your oh-so-intricate setup. ;-) My favorite "found" lighting was in a dinky church basement…the youth group had painted the walls red with graffiti, and I positioned my couple under a can light in the ceiling. Very dramatic!

  3. MM

    @Amy: That’s AWESOME!!

  4. Amanda Rae

    How much time did it take for you to shoot all the portraits for this wedding? How much time do you typically use to shoot portraits on a wedding day?

  5. MM

    @Amanda: Good question! For the first look and first set of portraits, I would say that took about 30 minutes or so. Then they changed and we went back out for about 15 minutes more of portraits before the family pictures (those took 30 minutes). Then we did another 10-15 or so at night. Normally we ask for about that much: an hour to an hour and a half. We like to ask for more than it might really take just in case things run late, there is a cushion.

  6. Jeff

    I especially love the shot of Sonia (I’m guessing) the gradient of the light on the brown pillar behind her is stellar! Such a standout shot to be done with available light!

    Thanks for the comment on my blog as well – the picture you commented on is one I’m working on various ways to edit post-prod – I love the shot but dislike the blown out sky….

  7. Stephanie Stewart

    Wow! Amazing! Thanks for sharing that tip! I too love found lighting! (cool name for it!) I’ve used light reflected off of car hoods, white posterboard, and a patch of sunlight on carpet. Love your portaits!

  8. MM

    @Stephanie: Light reflected off a car hood…. I LOVE it!!

  9. Ryan

    WOW! I didn’t think I could possibly admire your work anymore than I already do! You have raised the bar once again!!

  10. Pinky

    wow awesome! time to find some found light! =)

  11. Catherine Guidry

    I definitely dig the creative lighting strategies. NICE!

  12. Aric Becker

    I love street lamps!!! Especially on cool bridges at twilight.

  13. Brandy Frank

    Yay found light! thanks for sharing xoxo Brandy

  14. Lisa H. Chang

    Those were amazing photos you got from that light! So creative ~ and that’s why you’re called professionals!!!

  15. Jeff

    reflected light … like off the Gold Building in Hartford or the ‘other’ Gold Building in New Haven … very cool

  16. feuza

    that is so cool, I tend to experiment but usually does not work, learned some cool things with bui brothers at wppi about natural soft boxes and placing client in front of them

  17. Brendon

    Did you know that if you do a google search for "found lighting," your blog is the 4th result? Well I’m still experimenting, but found lighting will always beat flash in my book. :)

  18. MM

    @Brendon: that’s awesome!!

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