Shooting reflections can be tough. Easy to produce flash hits, and hard to manage backgrounds. Reflections can pick up all sorts of stuff you don’t want in the photo, or are unattractive. So, caution is the word, and piece by lighting piece, carefully placed, is the production plan.
The light here is a Profoto 1×3 strip, which I would have loved to be closer to our wonderful model, Kelly, but with the camera being wide angle, it’s as close as I could manage. It’s affixed with a fabric grid and further contained by the cutter boomed just below it. Note the sandbags and the assistant’s hand on the c-stand riser. You don’t want to extend a light this far without safety measures for the model. And for yourself. The location owners told us we could use that mirror but that is was an heirloom, valued beyond measure. I did not want to find out how much that mirror cost.
There’s a faint warmish glow in the other room, a wash on the ceiling as if there’s a light up there. Without that flash, the room goes black, and lacks depth. Has to be lit, as I am working as fast a shutter as I can, given the nuclear glow from the window, camera left. (Baseline exposure here on the Nikon Z 7II is ISO 400, 16mm throw on the Nikkor 14-24 f2.8 S lens, f/5.6, at 1/50th of a second.)
Everything on a shoot like this is “What can I get away with?” It’s wide glass but you have to careful with it as if really widen you’ll bestow upon Kelly a pair of arms and legs that might make her look like she plays in the NBA. Pull the window exposure down just enough, but if you go too far, the whole bloody room will require lighting. Control the light so it does not spill, but make it big enough to be pleasing for your subject and the mood of the old house. Tether Tools played a role here, with reliable connect to my laptop, and Capture One was huge in that i could really examine the photo, and enlarge it to see if there were stray details that needed tending to.
Speaking of control of your frame and being careful of the edges, etc., here’s where a stable tripod shines. It’s just absolutely necessary. My go to is Gitzo, for many years.
This mirror set is, lighting-wise, the opposite of the previous set in an adjacent room, seen below.
For this, I used a big scrim overhead of camera, to give a beautiful, open glow to Kelly, who’s dressed, courtesy of Sam Brown Style, as if she just walked off the set of Bridgerton. There was also a dash of low light to account for potential shadow from the hat, perched like a bird on her head. Above and below the lens, this was just lots and lots of soft, beautiful light, without too much regard for control.
As opposed to this kind of lighting on the last set of the day. Simple beauty dish with a grid and a diffuser sock. Edge for the face, no spill on the room. This is all about control.
So, why a blog now on lighting “This Old House?” Because that’s what we’re doing this coming November with our dear friends at Nikon UK. We have two days of lighting workshops coming up, at the amazingly beautiful English country mansion, Ashridge House, in Hertfordshire. We’ll run for two days, Nov. 24th and 25th. (The 24th is sold out, 25th still has a few spots.) Booking link is here.
We’ll have multiple talented models, and access to incredible scenes in this famous mansion, whose history literally dates back to medieval times. I’ve never worked there before and I’m totally jazzed by the possibilities of this location. As I said, we’ll have wonderful models, including one of my favorite models of all time, Amber Tutton, seen below in fashion mode in downtown London.
Can’t wait to get back to the UK. Hope to see many familiar faces of photog friends there!
Maria Sze says
Such a great tips. Thanks for the sharing.
Still remember meeting you in a workshop in hong Kong ages ago. It was very inspirational.
Will you be running any on-line workshop in the near future? Thanks
Matthew Farris says
As usual wonderful photos!! How do you like the Nikon ZVII? Watching you sets and your explanations of lighting makes me sometimes wish I could start my photo career all over again.
Joe McNally says
Hi Maria…planning a couple hour long talks on portraiture and window light coming up in Scott Kelby’s Portrait Conference. Link is here… https://kelbyonelive.com/. But nothing apart from that at the present time. Many thanks for the kind worda and glad you enjoyed that workshop long ago. Best, Joe
Joe McNally says
Liking the mirrorless styles of camera. The Nikon Z6 and Z7 series are excellent.
Love this! Thanks for the inspiration…as usual!
These photos are stunning!
Kathryn Parsons says
Wow! these are truly captivating… especially the first one to me! Thanks for the inspirations + break down!