We’ve been having quite a few photographers asking for lighting set ups and diagrams this past year. I have in the past shied away from giving out “lighting patterns” because, quite frankly, mine change daily and are very dancer dependent! In my lighting videos and workshops, I prefer to teach from the inside out. I find that by going into theory, my colleagues come away with the deeper knowledge about how to work with studio lighting. Rather than just give you some formulas, I’d rather you have the skills to really develop your own sense of style and work!
Having said that, I know it’s fun to see new lighting set ups and learn just what we did to achieve particular shots. There are a few photographers out there that I, too, look to for new ideas and inspirations, new modifiers and so on.
So we wanted to start this blog series to give you a little more insight into what we do every day in the studio. When I start working with a new type of modifier or set up, we’ll shoot it for you! If you have any particular styles of images you’d like to see a HIGTS for, drop us a line and we’ll add it to the list!
Tanya Trombly (Anti-Bunhead Fitness) came in last week to work on some new marketing material. She’s a freelance dancer here in NYC and adds to her own income through cross-training dancers. She’s doubly fun to work with since she has the legs and sensibility of a dancer but is also very athletic (not to mention ripped!!).
In this shot we were going for something that read both dance and fitness, a little “attitude” action on the run! Yes, this is actually a much harder shot to get than one might realize, I think we worked the supporting leg and body lines in this probably about 30 or 40 times till we go the exact angle we were looking for. The intention on her face and arm lines that mimic a runner were the icing on the cake.
For my main light I chose to go with two Paul C. Buff Einstein 640 heads with 7″ reflectors for their hard edge and exact placement of the light on both the upper body and lower body placed at intervals up high and angled about 45 degrees down.
In my studio we talk about light positioning using a clock system: the camera angel being 12 o’clock and directly behind the dancer (being 6 o’clock). The main heads were about 2:15ish, not flat to the side but not at 1:30. We then softened the effect by using a 8’x 8′ scrim. This gave us the exact directional lighting I wanted but softened the transition from highlight to shadow as well as giving us a little more even light overall.
We used a head in a chimera medium strip soft box with a grid, up high and towards the back (about 8 o’clock) for a highlight on her back arm and more importantly, her back leg.
Finally, for continuity of background color, we lit the background with 2 heads, again 7″ reflectors (no grids, straight on), low and at very little power, just enough for an even spread.
Having light come from up high is often preferable for dancers shapes, but it does cause the floor to almost always be a lighter tone than the background. When you are looking for that contrast, great! But here we wanted the contrast to be a little less: not enough so that she looks like she is floating but just enough for us to see she’s on the floor without really noticing it.
I hope this series helps encourage you to try new things, branch out and create something you haven’t had the chance to previously!