Minimalist Lighting: A rare rimlit Tuck shot.

85852389-M, originally uploaded by kirkinaustin.

I don't like the gratuitous use of rim lighting or halo-like back lighting in photographs even though I am guilty of it from time to time. I was photographing an executive at a company called RackSpace in San Antonio for Accelerate Magazine (published for AMD) and I was in the throes of writing my first book on lighting ( Minimalist Lighting: Professional Techniques for Location Photography ). I wanted to show readers how much you could do with just a few battery powered strobes and this seemed like a fun place to start.

I'm using a small softbox to the right of the frame to provide main light for my subject. I've got a small flexible fill reflector over to the left of the frame for fill. It's being illuminated by a light set a 1/4 the power of the main light. I have two lights, zoomed to their widest reflector settings on the warm wall in the background and a fifth light aimed at the back of the subject's head as a separation or halo light. I thought it would be useful in separating the tone of the wall from the similar tone of his face.

There is much that can be done with small lights, and even though I've changed systems from Nikon to Olympus I try to keep my lighting bag full of small, battery powered flash units that can be used maually with power set in ratios. Currently I'm using a mix of Metz and Vivitar flashes. The Vivitars have built in optical slaves and a slave setting that overrides the energy saving programming of the the flash. This makes them great as secondary flashes for things like back wall washes and accent lights.

The photo session included a number of shots taken around the Rack Space facility and was well used by the magazine.

After writing the first book I had a reaction to all the battery powered, small light stuff. I took a hiatus and embraced my big, clunky, powerful Profoto lights for a while. My recent system change has re-energized my interest in the small flashes. I'm currently having fun figuring out how to conquer Texas sun with just a handful of Metz units. More details to come.

Best, Kirk

P.S. The Commercial Photographer's Handbook should start shipping from Amazon this coming week. I'm thrilled with the printing of the book. The colors are wonderful.

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