Friday, July 12, 2019

Studio Lighting

My friend/neighbor Harry and I joined a Houston area photography club earlier this year. The group meets twice a month, for technical training and for print photo competition. This months technical session was on studio lighting. Most amateurs cannot afford nor justify the large outlay for quality studio lighting. Especially since we take most of our photos outdoors.

The club begged and borrowed a half dozen professional lights, invited a few models to come sit, then turned us loose to practice and learn how the various lights affect the final image.

Here's Harry sitting for another club member. Handsome guy, he's Italian.

Some joked and prodded the models, others asked the model to look up, look down, left, 
right, smile, don't smile, do this, do that... 

I watched, listened, clicked the shutter button a few times.

A few club members posed in front of the lights while the models were busy elsewhere.

Me... am not model material... ,
nor do I enjoy taking portraits. 

So I did what I do best, took street photos of other people doing what they do.
In this case, snap photos of photographers taking photos of models 
who pose for photos by photographers.  (say that five times without stuttering). 

I found the interaction between the photographer and the model to be an interesting dynamic.

Had a total of four or five models. Some children, some grandchildren of club members.

This shot was difficult for me to achieve the desired relationship in editing. Faith, the model on the far right would look to her mother on the far left for support. When two or three people are pointing big camera lens at you, telling you to do this, do that, etc, it can be unnerving to a young person.  
The two would look at each other, mother calming her daughter while ignoring the noise 
and activity going on in between them.  

I wanted to show that link, the connection between them in spite 
of being on opposite sides of the photo.

Had to fiddle awhile in editing to gain something. It's all a learning process. 
Learned something new to apply in future situations. 

Between shots, Faith would quietly wait as the shutterbugs tried to figure out their light meters, set apertures, fiddle with ISO, swap lenses, adjust lighting, etc. etc. She is very poised, learning to model, a volunteer too. 

Waiting for the next body hidden behind a camera to ask for a smile... ,  ... ,   ... ,

click, click, hold, hold, hold... Click!

In the end I did snap a few shots that could be considered portraits.  
Took them home and played with some portrait settings with photo editing software.

Here is Faith... with a glamour filter.

But what I consider my best shot of the night is of a club member who was waiting 
while they were setting up the lights. All natural, no makeup, no forced smile,  100% real... 
with a hundred things on his mind.

The Real McCoy...  Billy.

Next week I get back on the road. 
Riding up to northern Idaho for the National Sidecar rally. 

Am looking forward to get some good photos from the road and at the rally.

Ride safe ya'll



  1. Portrait photography....a frontier I probably will never explore...nice job

    1. We sometimes need to push ourselves into new territory, to keep it fresh. We know before starting that our first efforts will not be great, but maybe we'll learn something we can apply to the type of photography we like to do.

      I start with my big toe before jumping in...

  2. Portraits, something I avoid…

    Enjoy Idaho, I was originally planning to leave tomorrow...

    1. I wasn't planning on going as, like most of us, I don't have a studio, don't plan on having a studio, most likely will never have access to a studio... then I thought why not. I might learn something.

      Sorry we won't meet up in Idaho. Hope you recover and get well fast. That smokey air you are having isn't helping your recovery any either.

  3. Great insight into the art of photography. One thing you told me that I thought was profound was "Great photographs are not taken, they are made." or something like that. I like to take pics when I travel but any good pics are totally an accident. But I feel if I had more skill with various tools many more could be made 'good'.

    Have a great trip to Idaho and keep us informed of your progress!

  4. Thanks Jerry, as much as I would like to claim credit, Ansel Adams made that statement. I just repeat them.
    I very much doubt anyone of us has seen in the last twenty years a photograph in a magazine, brochure or book that has NOT been "made".

    Looking forward to getting out of the Texas heat for a month.

  5. Interesting. As redlegsrides said, portraits are not for me.

    1. Hey Kolfa, I think its the required interaction between the photographer and model that puts off many a photographer. Basically we don't like bossing other people around, but with a model you have to tell them what you want them to do. Sometimes very specifically tell them what look you want them to make...

      Wedding photography..., now that is a whole other area of photography that I avoid like the plague. Nooooo thank you.

      With landscape we either like what we see or not, it's a take it or leave situation.

  6. As motorcyclists we have developed a higher level of situational awareness that the normal cage driver. Because of that we make better street photographers. We notice things that most people look past. Our safety depends on it.

    Recently I presented a photo to the club of an obviously distressed person sitting on the steps outside a hospital with an empty wheelchair. I came across the scene, had my camera with me and took several shots.

    A club member who does serious studio work, asked how long it took me to set up that scene to create the image. At first puzzled, then I realized every photo that person takes is done in a studio, many times with models. They only photograph staged scenes. And is very good at it.

    He never thinks about doing street photography.

    A thousand people will walk by a tree in a field but a good street photographer might see something in that tree and take a striking picture.


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