So, he donned some clothing so that he was dressed Gangnam Style. He was going to put on a performance for me so that I could create some images for him as Psy. That faded quickly when he saw his didgeridoo. The performance did a 180 turn. I suggested that he change his Gangnam clothing so that he matched his didgeridoo. As he tends to do, he came back shirtless. Yes, my son prefers to run around the house shirtless. No amount of cajoling can get him to put on clothing. Boys!
Anyway, if you read my blog, you are surely more interested in the photography and lighting aspect, not an essay on child behavior.
I have always loved the lighting from the 1930-1950s. It is a timeless look, has lovely contrast, and plays up features on faces or contours on the body. However, these lighting effects were achieved with hot lights. I've already made the decision to use flash in my studio. After playing with the look using flash during my Vintage Hollywood Glamour themed shoot, I decided to try different ways to set up my flashes to create this look. It may not be identical, but it is close enough for my liking.
For this image of my son, the vintage hot light look works perfectly because he is shirtless (see there was a reason for my child behavior explanation earlier). The light plays on the contours of his face and chest. Hot lights give skin a glowing appearance, which you can see I've created on his face with a strobe and the lights have also carved out the shapes of his neck and clavicle.
My light setup was simple. I placed the main light on a boom above him, a fill light on an angle in front of him, and a single light aimed at the background to create separation between him and the background. That's it. Three whole lights. I used reflectors without grids. Therefore, bare bulb, undiffused light hit my subject. Yes, this image was created with hard light, yet his face glows.
I think the trend to soften light and the fear of hard light has led to a lot of flat images. It's not a bad thing. It's a personal preference. Soft, diffused light removes shape and modeling from your subject. I tend to like a lot of contrast in my images so this bare-bulbed technique is something I will definitely explore more. It is not an easy technique. When you work with hard light, you have to make sure the light is placed exactly where you want it or you will have unflattering shadows and hot spots on your subject. Soft, diffused light is more forgiving of placement because the light is bouncing around everywhere. Soft light is not as directional as hard lights.
Additionally, using hard lights and placing the light exactly where you want it reduces a lot of time in post production. The shapes and contours in the body are already there. Contrast is already there. The only thing I did to this image was add texture. Again, personal preference, but I like grit and grain in my images. That's probably because I shot film for so many years.
I look forward to the challenges of using hard light in future projects. I'm sure there will be a lot of flops as I learn how to place the lights, but we learn from our mistakes, right?