Intrepid Photographic Genius, Will van Overbeek, Poses For Another One Of
My Endless LED Lighting Experiments. Straining The Bonds Of Friendship.......
I've come to believe, after years of trial and error, that the only way to master a style, a light, a camera or a lens is to spar with it for weeks, wrestle it to the ground and beat on it for months and months. Maybe even years and years. The only problem with that for a photographer who likes to photograph people is that, sooner or later, your friends, loved ones and neighborly acquaintances will start to avoid you like sour milk and you'll have no more subjects on which to practice.
Will is a brilliant photographer and an old friend and we often meet for lunch. But today he got too close to the gravitational draw of the studio and, like a spider, I slowly pulled him into the web.
If you've been reading this blog for a while you probably know that I've become quite interested in LED lighting. Interested enough to take money out of my pocket and buy three 500 bulb LED fixtures and one 1000 bulb fixture. The light they put out is different from flash and daylight and I keep trying to get a hand on it. To this end I'm practicing with all manner of filters and custom white balances and fixes in RAW. Today I was going for a contrastier look. I used the 1000 close in as a main light, with one layer of diffusion. A 500 on the background (a gray painted wall). I used a 500 as a hair light high and on the same side of the frame as the main light. On the opposite side I used a kicker light with only half of its 500 bulbs on.
The rest of the technical details are way, way out of my comfort level. For example, I'm actually hand holding my Canon 5D2 to do the shot. A tangle of tripods just steps away.......but I was trying to shake up the way I shoot. My ISO was set to 100 and, amazingly, instead of a longer portrait focal length like a 100mm or even a comfortable old 85mm, I was using the 50mm Zeiss lens. I shot until Will couldn't stand it anymore. We called it a day after ten or so frames.
I'm starting to get my LED's dialed in and in about six months or so I should have an eminently useful methodology in place. For now I'm just enjoying the novelty of it all.
Why am I shooting with LEDs? Um. For some crazy reason, corroborated by my electrical engineer friend, Bernard, I think they will end up being the universal light as we go forward. The lines are already blurring a bit between stills and motion and I'm betting Ben's generation (kids under 20) will have no real interest in still images when they come into the market. I'd like to learn this stuff at the front end instead of being like all the guys I met back in 1999-2005 who were waiting to see if digital was going to "catch on". I watched them trying to cram down the ten years of learning curve and experimentation I did with digital into ten months. And for them it was a real "sink or swim" situation. The market had moved around them and they didn't know how to paddle the boat any more.
And constant learning keeps the process fun. And isn't good, clean fun what it's really all about anyway?