Inland Outlook Photo Club portrait lighting workshop

A few months ago I joined the Inland Outlook Photo Club (http://www.inlandoutlook.org/).  It’s always nice to interact with fellow photographers, and yesterday I attended an IOPC portrait lighting workshop where about 25 club members got together to learn about and practice portrait lighting techniques.  With us were three professional models: Desirae Start, Kim Franco and Nicole Jacobs.

Our three models were pretty busy once we all got to shootin’.  We had three different lighting set-ups with one of our models at each set-up.  We all got to take turns photographing our models at each set-up, and some of the club members became models for an evening.  Desirae, Kim and Nicole were patient and worked the crowd of photographers like, well, professional models.  Thank you, ladies, for doing such a great job for us all.  I know everyone appreciated you.

At one station we had a camera strobe set up in a beauty dish, fired by a Pocket Wizard transmitter.  There were only a few transmitters available; so we had to share.  I decided to try an experiment with my Canon EOS 6D, renowned for its low-light capabilities.  Using only the backdrop light for illumination behind Desirae, with no transmitter to fire the main flash, I shot some photos to see what sort of quality my camera could deliver in low light, and what sort of skills I had in post-processing. 

 Desirae Start  (www.facebook.com/desirae.start) .  This image includes a main flash plus a backlight.

Desirae Start (www.facebook.com/desirae.start).  This image includes a main flash plus a backlight.

There’s an obvious difference between my images of Desirae that I shot with flash and those with only the backlight.  For the backlight shots I set my camera at ISO 3200 with a shutter speed of 1/45th of a second, and the aperture of my Sigma 24-105 Art lens wide open at f/4.  With flash I could reduce the ISO to 800, though I still needed a shutter speed of 1/45th of a second.  Good thing my lens has image stabilization!

 Desirae is lit only from behind in this image.  If I shot this image on film under the same lighting conditions, I doubt I could have made anything of it.  Such is the power of digital imaging.  

Desirae is lit only from behind in this image.  If I shot this image on film under the same lighting conditions, I doubt I could have made anything of it.  Such is the power of digital imaging.  

The flash shots were, of course, crisper, more detailed and easier to edit.  The backlight shots were flatter, softer, and a little fuzzier because of the tweaking I had to do to bring out the detail, but they resulted in images with something of an ethereal feel.  At least that’s how I read them.  Of course, Desirae provided just the right looks for these shots. I like these images, though I wouldn’t always want to shoot in low light without flash, no matter how good my camera may be.

 Kim Franco

Kim Franco

Thanks to Mark Anthony of the IOPC for organizing and running this workshop.  Thanks also to Ira Gardner (of Spokane Falls Community College) and Ray Ward (www.facebook.com/ray.ward.92) for lending their photographic expertise.  It was a fine learning experience.