Portrait Artist Forum    

Go Back   Portrait Artist Forum > Lighting & Photographing for Portraiture


Reply
 
Topic Tools Display Modes
Old 06-28-2001, 01:52 PM   #1
Karin Wells Karin Wells is offline
FT Pro, Mem SOG,'08 Cert Excellence PSA, '02 Schroeder Portrait Award Copley Soc, '99 1st Place PSA, '98 Sp Recognition Washington Soc Portrait Artists, '97 1st Prize ASOPA, '97 Best Prtfolio ASOPA
 
Karin Wells's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2001
Location: Peterborough, NH
Posts: 1,114
exclamation How to photograph a client




by Karin Wells
This and other information can be found on my website at www.portraitartist.com/wells

A Single Source of Light

I've always loved the paintings of the Old Masters and often have copied their works in order to understand the masters' use of light and composition. Their lighting is simple, elegant, and comes from a single light source. Over the years, I've devised a method of achieving this single source lighting with the use of my camera and artificial illumination equipment. Because I personally find a natural daylight source to be inconsistent and often paint into the night without a model, I heavily rely on my camera for reference "notes".

I've found that it is difficult, if not impossible to produce a good portrait from a poor photograph. For example, shadows that look wonderful when you have the model sitting in front of you, can unhappily appear as solid black in the resulting photograph. Another inferior result comes from the use of high-speed film in low light, making the photo grainy. There are two variables that determine how much light intensity is needed - lens aperture and film speed. The faster the film speed and the larger the aperture setting, the more grainy and inferior the resulting photo. What a portrait artist needs is sharp, brilliant pictures with good depth of field. The only way to get this, especially with moving children, is to have lots of steady light, a slow speed film, and moderate or high apertures.

The placement of the light in relationship to the subject is critical. As a rule of thumb, when photographing most clients, I set up my light to the left of the camera and above the subject. This placement will produce shadows appearing in a pattern that photographers call, "Rembrandt Lighting". Since paintings, like books, read from left to right, this direction of light is oftentimes the most pleasing. With older clients, I like to keep the lighting as frontal as possible in order to minimize the appearance of creases and wrinkles on the skin.

To reflect light back into the shadow slide of the model (so that the shadows don't look black in the resulting photo), I place reflectors (white cardboard will do) opposite the light source and "off camera". Bounce more light than your eye tells you to back into the shadows, so that you will be able to see detail within the shadows. Most professional photographers use another light to accomplish this, but I urge you to resist the temptation. I find that the results can be excellent when served by a single light source and a reflecting board.

I often photograph my subject with a neutral background. My discovery of a portable "Background System in a Bag" by Photek, makes traveling to the client's location a breeze. It consists of a large, 8'x12', pearl gray material with collapsible supports. In composing the actual painting, this neutral background allows me the flexibility to add objects or landscapes that I've photographed separately.

I use a 35mm Canon EOS Elan camera (auto focus) with a Tamron 28-200 zoom lens. I prefer a slow (160 ISO) professional film by Kodak, Vericolor III. It gives me accurate color, clear detail, and soft shadows.

The "White Lightning Ultra 600" studio flash manufactured by Paul C. Buff, Inc. of Nashville, TN., illuminates the subject while showing exactly where the shadows fall. It is lightweight and portable, and allows me to shoot at a faster speed, thus eliminating the need for a tripod. I also use a Wein light meter (any will do) to determine the aperture on my camera. When I click the shutter, a strobe ring at the base of the modeling light automatically flashes and illuminates the subject with the correct amount of light. I also use a diffuser, softbox or white umbrella to provide light that wraps gently around the form.

It takes time, study and practice to produce beautifully lighted photographs for use in portraiture. My system has worked well for me to mimic the single light source.

Last edited by Karin Wells; 11-20-2001 at 11:39 PM.
  Reply With Quote
Old 12-12-2001, 10:40 PM   #2
Renee Brown Renee Brown is offline
Associate Member
FT Pro 5 yrs
 
Renee Brown's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2001
Location: East Northport, NY
Posts: 74
Surroundings of the Photo Setup

Karin, Hi. I have my lighting set up all ready to use, based on your above advice. My questions are: What are the surroundings when you take your photos with the lighting setup?

Is the room filled with indirect light from the outdoors? Do you use blackout shades to make the room as dark as possible? Or do any additional light sources get cancelled out as soon as the photolamp goes on?

Are you using a strobe or a regular photobulb? 250 watts? 150?

Do you go to the clients home sometimes to shoot the photos?

Thanks,
Renee
__________________
www.ReneeBrown.com
  Reply With Quote
Old 12-14-2001, 09:31 AM   #3
Karin Wells Karin Wells is offline
FT Pro, Mem SOG,'08 Cert Excellence PSA, '02 Schroeder Portrait Award Copley Soc, '99 1st Place PSA, '98 Sp Recognition Washington Soc Portrait Artists, '97 1st Prize ASOPA, '97 Best Prtfolio ASOPA
 
Karin Wells's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2001
Location: Peterborough, NH
Posts: 1,114
I shoot in ambient light as my strobe is powerful and will cancel out other light. I keep the room dim enough so that I can determine shadow patters using just my modeling light.

The White Lightning that I have has both a strobe and a modeling light.

The stronger light that flashes in order to snap the shutter and take the picture is the strobe. It overrides the modeling light.

In a pinch, I have even used an ordinary 100 watt light bulb as the modeling light to pre-determine my shadows.

I prefer to shoot in my studio because the setup is ideal. However, it is sometimes necessary to go on location to shoot.
__________________
Karin Wells

www.KarinWells.com

www.KarinWells.BlogSpot.com
  Reply With Quote
Old 12-17-2001, 11:43 AM   #4
Karin Wells Karin Wells is offline
FT Pro, Mem SOG,'08 Cert Excellence PSA, '02 Schroeder Portrait Award Copley Soc, '99 1st Place PSA, '98 Sp Recognition Washington Soc Portrait Artists, '97 1st Prize ASOPA, '97 Best Prtfolio ASOPA
 
Karin Wells's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2001
Location: Peterborough, NH
Posts: 1,114
Lighting update

Here is some additional info. on how I shoot a subject. Right now I am using a white umbrella to bounce a softer and more gentle wraparound light onto the subject. Please understand that all this is experimental, but at the moment this seems to work OK.

Set your umbrella at a 45 degree angle from your subject and position the umbrella so you get light in both eyes.

The light source should be about 3 or 4 feet from the subject. I usually have the light 12" to 18" above the model's head. Be sure to have the camera lens at the model's eye level.

I don't shoot in a dark room, but the lights are low enough so that it would be difficult to read a book with small type.

Now here is the part you have to play with: with the light pointed into the white umbrella (away from the subject) I adjust it so that the light it casts just catches the subject with the outer (back) edge (i.e., the path of light is mostly in front of the subject - falling between the model and the camera).

In this position, I try to aim the light directly at the top of the head or the forehead. This position seems to help the light "wash" down the figure and give the picture "atmosphere".

I plug my Paul C. Buff lights directly into my camera. Then I set the aperture somewhere between 8 and 11 depending on how sharp I want the background in focus
__________________
Karin Wells

www.KarinWells.com

www.KarinWells.BlogSpot.com
  Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2001, 09:17 AM   #5
Renee Brown Renee Brown is offline
Associate Member
FT Pro 5 yrs
 
Renee Brown's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2001
Location: East Northport, NY
Posts: 74
Karin,

Hi. I just dropped family off at the airport after a great holiday visit. Now, back to work!

My son gave me the Photek Background in a Bag and have since realized the support does not come with the fabric! So, ready now to buy the framework to hold up the fabric (another $150) and my question is , "did you buy the support from Photek as well?" Is that the strongest one?

Nowadays companies sell everything so that you must buy the accessories, prices that must be factored in. For instance, my Sony Cybershot-DSC-P50 comes with a 4Mb memory stick. It only holds one pic so I had to buy a 128Mb stick.

On the strobe, Paul C. Buff no longer carries the 600 series, and now have the 800. How high does that make the light? You start with a 150 watt modeling light, correct? So, when the flash goes off, how bright is the light on the model? It doesn't wash out the color, does it? Can you adjust the amount of light coming out of the strobe?

You and I have spoken before about the umbrella versus a relector board. I returned my 40" umbrella as I found the coroplast white board clamped onto two additional light stands to reflect light better IMHO.

Renee
__________________
www.ReneeBrown.com
  Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2001, 09:06 PM   #6
Karin Wells Karin Wells is offline
FT Pro, Mem SOG,'08 Cert Excellence PSA, '02 Schroeder Portrait Award Copley Soc, '99 1st Place PSA, '98 Sp Recognition Washington Soc Portrait Artists, '97 1st Prize ASOPA, '97 Best Prtfolio ASOPA
 
Karin Wells's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2001
Location: Peterborough, NH
Posts: 1,114
The Photek support is made especially for the fabric you have and I recommend it.

With a PC Buff strobe, you can choose just the amount of light you need. This company is most helpful and I suggest that you ask them for the particulars about each of their models.

Do not confuse an umbrella with a reflector board - they have different purposes (see blackboard below).

An UMBRELLA acts to soften the light...and you can use it with your light in two ways:

#1.
You can put the umbrella between the light and the subject. Then shine the light through the umbrella onto the subject...this will soften the light.

#2.
Another way to soften light is to turn the light away from the subject and shine it into an (opaque) umbrella behind it. The umbrella faces the subject.

A REFLECTOR is placed opposite the light in order to reflect light back into the shadow side of the subject.

I hope this is helpful.
__________________
Karin Wells

www.KarinWells.com

www.KarinWells.BlogSpot.com
  Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2001, 09:25 PM   #7
Karin Wells Karin Wells is offline
FT Pro, Mem SOG,'08 Cert Excellence PSA, '02 Schroeder Portrait Award Copley Soc, '99 1st Place PSA, '98 Sp Recognition Washington Soc Portrait Artists, '97 1st Prize ASOPA, '97 Best Prtfolio ASOPA
 
Karin Wells's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2001
Location: Peterborough, NH
Posts: 1,114
(blackboard)
Attached Images
 
__________________
Karin Wells

www.KarinWells.com

www.KarinWells.BlogSpot.com
  Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2001, 10:36 PM   #8
Renee Brown Renee Brown is offline
Associate Member
FT Pro 5 yrs
 
Renee Brown's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2001
Location: East Northport, NY
Posts: 74
Karin, Thanks. Yes, I see the different uses for the umbrella versus the board.

Btw, your subject has a lovely smile.

Renee
__________________
www.ReneeBrown.com
  Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2001, 02:11 PM   #9
Renee Brown Renee Brown is offline
Associate Member
FT Pro 5 yrs
 
Renee Brown's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2001
Location: East Northport, NY
Posts: 74
Karin, I just sent an order for the Photek support system for the background in a bag.

I am about to place an order for the Ultra Zap 800 lighting system from Paul C. Buff. They have a sale on a 20" relector that is adaptable with the UZ800.

Is the relector a necessary thing to buy?

Renee
__________________
www.ReneeBrown.com
  Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2001, 03:04 PM   #10
Karin Wells Karin Wells is offline
FT Pro, Mem SOG,'08 Cert Excellence PSA, '02 Schroeder Portrait Award Copley Soc, '99 1st Place PSA, '98 Sp Recognition Washington Soc Portrait Artists, '97 1st Prize ASOPA, '97 Best Prtfolio ASOPA
 
Karin Wells's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2001
Location: Peterborough, NH
Posts: 1,114
..."Is the relector a necessary thing to buy?"

For reflectors I have used some of the following;
white sheets, white poster board and painted white walls.

Anything that bounces light will do.....commercial reflectors are indeed expensive...but convenient to store, transport and use.

I'd say it is up to you if you wish to spend the extra money...good luck.
__________________
Karin Wells

www.KarinWells.com

www.KarinWells.BlogSpot.com
  Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing this Topic: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Topic Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

 

Make a Donation



Support the Forum by making a donation or ordering on Amazon through our search or book links..







All times are GMT -4. The time now is 12:37 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.