Friday, March 14, 2008

Sexy baby! Yea!

A couple of presents arrived at the front door today. When I got home from taking of the girls to lunch with my family I discovered that my lights had arrived. I ordered my lights from a company called alienbees which seemed to get a lot of good reviews from amateur photographers. I ordered what they call the "digital package" which came with two lights, two stands, two umbrellas and a remote trigger (I'm sure that most people don't understand this technical talk but I'm including this information in case someone comes across this post while surfing the Web looking for information on setting up their own home studio).

I haven't received my backdrops yet so I had to make do with just a black background the first time I set up my new lights. So far I've been very pleased with the quality of the lights and ease of operation.

As is typical whenever I go down a path like this, I have already decided that I need more lights. What I bought is sufficient for shooting group shots of the family, which is the main reason I bought them, but if I want to do more intimate portrait work I will need more lights. Still, just working with the two lights that I have I was able to set them up in a clamshell configuration and shoot a self-portrait of myself. I put one light directly over my head and a little in front shooting through the umbrella. I put the other one below me and in front bouncing up as a fill light. Normally when you try to do a clamshell configuration you would have the above light in a soft box and on a boom and you probably wouldn't use a bottom light at all but rather a large reflector. Still, it only took me seven shots before I got the one that accompanies this post (and remember, I was shooting myself so I had to use a timer and after every picture walk around to the back of the camera to see how it turned out). I did a little post-op work with Paintshop Pro but it was all cosmetic, no color adjustment or contrast/brightness. (What did I do? Well, if you know me then you know that I look even older in person than I do in this picture. Plus, I have a pimple right in the middle of my chin.)

By the way, let me also point out that despite all the technical lingo-rap I'm laying down in this post, I didn't even know what a "clamshell configuration" was until yesterday. Also, if you notice some strange discoloration in the picture when you click it, especially in the shirt, that's something to do with the way that Blogger uploads pictures.

If I had my way, I think I would buy two more lights. One for lighting the background and one more for the model. I also need a large reflector and stand as well as at least one soft box and maybe a grid for the box. I don't see myself making these purchases anytime soon because I still have a lot to learn. It will probably do me a world of good if I'm forced to improvise a lot. For example, in the above shot I was using a silver umbrella for the bottom fill because I forgot that the umbrella was reversible. I'm sure the shot would have been better with a soft white umbrella fill.

Bobbi has, as of yet, declined to get naked for the camera. I'll keep you posted.


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