Studio lighting - white floor on a full length fashion portrait.
One of the conundrums of studio lighting is how to achieve a white floor, or at least reduce the amount of re-touching required in Photoshop.
In one of the lessons, we use a single light method to test this theoretical approach out (Below).
The floor plan is drawn on the white board and the students copy this up. I usually get a couple of the least experienced student to then set up the lights and take the meter readings, one acts as the assistant and the other the photographer. The rest of the class look on as H&S monitors.
I then go round the class asking individual students how they need to configure their cameras...
White balance set to flash
Lens set to a focal length of 55mm with a DSLR
Focusing point set for upright portrait, central or manual focus.
Shutter speed - 1/125
ISO - 100
We them aim to set the lights to give us a light reading of approx. F8 or F11.
The light (B) is the primary light source and we use either a medium size dish (Parabolic type) or a white umbrella with the light reflected out of it. The best option if available is small soft box approx. 18" x 18". The light is set at 45 degrees to the subject and the meter reading is taken from the face. The light gives good modelling to the face picking up the shape and features. Some attention should be given to where the shadows fall and reflector (D) positioned to provide fill-in.
The main observations with this demo is to look at how the floor is rendered. Students tend to have their lighting far too close to the subject and therefore have poor results due to the negative affect of Inverse Square Law. The basic principal that needs to be taught here is The further the lights are away from the subject, the more control you'll have over the lighting. (Inverse Square Law). The downside of this is that your studio needs to be relatively large in size in order to give you the distance from the subject (height and length).
In our studio in this demo we use the height of the studio to gain our necessary distance from the subject so putting Inverse Square Law into practice in our favour. With the light fully extended to the ceiling (15') the light striking the model is sufficiently even as to cover both the model and the surrounding floor space. The distance between the model and the infinity cover behind is approx. 15'-18' and with this single light is almost rendered 100% white too!
The only issue and area for concern is the shadow between the subject and the reflector board, but this is relatively small and unobtrusive and easily removed in Photoshop. Or you can explore the use of using the reflector closer or adding more lights? A mate of mine who uses this in a professional context places an additional reflector between the model and the camera directing additional light back into the floor reducing the shadow further still. Students should be encouraged in their own time to explore this as an option.
If you need to link this with a practitioner you should use my http://www.listofphotographers.blogspot.co.uk/ and type in studio and check out the photographers there.
Note, as a student you should record exactly what you do when setting these lighting sets up and take a wide shot of the set, to use alongside your floor plan and the resulting images.
Once completed you should then reflect on your activities.
The Gibbs reflective practice process should not be seen as a separate entity from your work – an ‘Add on’. It should be seen as an integral part of how you put your projects together… Each time you produce something of substance or try something new or challenging, it should be followed by the ‘Gibbs’ process.