Tuesday
Jun052012

3 Strobes and a Bed Sheet

THE SITUATION

So my cousin stopped by our hotel while my wife and I are drinking winding our way through the Napa Valley.  She was saying she needed a few nice shots of herself, and being ever-ready to shoot, and with the most amazing support staff a guy could ask for-- his wife-- I thought I’d give it a shot.

 

 

THE SETUP

 

Well, I only have a few items at my disposal.  I have a 50mm f/1.4 lens, which is a good start (I’m taking mostly scenery shots on our trip, so I didn’t pack my 70-200mm, which I’d prefer for this setup), my other lens is a 17-35mm, which is out of the question for head shots.  

 

I do have strobes, good, because it’s late at night, so I’m going to have to light it.  But you know strobes-- blasty and direct without modifiers, so we’re going to have to improvise.  

 

Bring on the bed sheet!  A bed sheet is large, white and semi transparent.  So any small light source (like a strobe) pointed at it will become the size of the sheet as the light penetrates it.  Boo-Yah!  Instant wall of light.

 

There’s a colorful curtain in my room, so that’s my first background.  

 

CHALLENGES

 

I had the strobes tied together in my Frankenstein setup (see the high-speed sync blog) so I thought I’d start there. Problem is-- the room is cramped as hell.  So we pull the sheet off the bed-- drape it between door jams (just out of frame left) my wife holding the Frankenstein about a foot off the sheet, shoot through to spread the light and get a few decent frames.  The above being the keeper.  

 

I tried some white wall shots-- but not so good.  So we move outside to a bench, yes, the bed sheet came along!

 

TECHNICAL STUFF

 

I’m working entirely in CLS here-- Remote mode.  My f-stop is f/5.6 throughout the entire shoot, focusing always on the near eye.  f/5.6 provides a nice drop off in depth of field beyond the face, without being to shallow.  Indoors I shot at 1/80, outdoor I jumped to 1/250.  Pop up flash is deployed, only to send the CLS signals to the remote strobes.  Flash mode is Commander, with the pop up set to “--”, so it doesn’t affect my image. 

 

 

 

PROGRESS

 

Now I pull the strobes apart, use the ball bungies that had them tied together to strap 2 of the strobes (SB-800s) to the back of the bench, firing into the greenery behind.  I changed the SB-800s to group B, keeping the key (SB-900) behind the sheet on group A.  Using all CLS here.

 

 

I tried up and left first, resulting in these shots (above and below).

 

 

VARIATIONS

 

I’m liking where this is heading, but change the light over to her left (my right) which is a little more flattering.

 

 

WRAPPING UP

 

Just a couple more frames and we hit the hot tub with a bottle of wine.  

 

 

The lesson here is ANYTHING can modify light.  The sheet provided a nice modifier to deliver a large soft light from just a single strobe. 

 

Okay, so the staff at the hotel thought we were nuts, but, hey, it worked!

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