Available Light: Every Light that is Available

The old joke in photography is that available light is simply every light that is available to you. I have been neglecting light for a while now, working on content and not so much on color and contours. After seeing some of the work being posted on the Strobist blog and some other places as well I decided that I really should begin using light that I control.

To start with today I had a portrait assignment at a bland strip mall space that has been turned into a church of sorts. You know the room. Window store front with boring, hideous overhead fluorescent lights and bland walls. While the reporter conducted her interview I decided to set this shot up with a stool (already there) a blank section of wall and two Nikon SB-800 flash units. One is set to the back and left with a blue gel to color the wall, and set to about 1/4 power. The other flash is set to iTTL, mounted on a stand and connected to the camera using the SC-17 sync cord and a LumiQuest softbox diffuser. It only took me about two minutes to move the lights to where I wanted them once the subject, Rev. Milt Shirleson, was seated.

Over all I like the image, but was not careful enough with my background light, which did spill over a bit and turn the edge of his face and chin blue. Next time I will have to use a snoot or scrim of some type.

I had a major advertising assignment today that included 21 different set-ups at two different stores. I tried to light the items as simply as possible while still getting a bit of pop and impact to them. If I used ambient light then everything would have been flat and low contrast. So enter a single off-camera SB-800 flash using a TTL cord and a LumiQuest softbox diffuser to light it from the left side. Details stand out and things sparkle a bit, probably even enough to stand out in newsprint.

This final ad image was done entirely with the ambient light. The jacket is on a mannequin facing the front of the store with a large plate glass window facing north letting light in. In effect it was a giant diffuser that gave what I feel is a pleasing wrap to the light and eliminates hot spots and hard shadows.
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