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Photography Question 
Donna L. Jones
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/22/2002
 

Lighting


I have been doing portraits outdoors for six years and it's going well. I now have an opportunity to shoot 100 students for their yearbook indoors. I will be using my Norman lights (old, old, set) and a black backdrop. I can do a nice portrait with two lights but I have a hair light I'd like to add but I can't position it to get a soft hair light look. Can anyone "draw me a picture" of what I might be doing wrong? It's on an adjustable tripod and I'm putting it to the side and above but not looking good...thanks! Donna Jones


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8/18/2009 7:22:34 AM

 
John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John-Siskin.com
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
  Hi Donna,
I have a lot of Normans, but I won’t think of them as old until they are older than me. I really like my 200B units and my P1250D for the 900 series lights. First I would tell you that a black background is really difficult for this kind of work. If you have a person with light hair you have good separation for the hair and when you have a dark haired subject you don’t have good separation. So if you use a black background you may have to customize the light on every shot, not good for school pictures. The traditional hair light comes from above the subject on a boom. Generally the light has a snoot so that the light is only on the hair. This means the light has to be set for each child. If you used a small umbrella above the subject, on a boom arm, you might have something that would work in most cases. If the child moved it wouldn’t be a crisis. If the child knocks over the boom it would be a crisis. You might want to check out this article on shooting with one light: www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=129 . Although this won’t work well with a black background, because of problems separating the subject from the background. Thanks, John Siskin


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8/21/2009 11:43:42 AM

 
Donna L. Jones
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/22/2002
  Oh Boy John...that's what I was afraid of...Do you have any suggestions for a specific backdrop other than the usual blue? They want us hoping we can do something that looks more "classic" than the typical blue background school portrait....I will try to see if I can attach an umbrella to the hair light and if the boom arm is tall enough to light from above... that does seem like a great idea! thanks for your help!


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8/21/2009 2:45:51 PM

 
John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John-Siskin.com
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
  Hi Donna,
I like to use a dark gray background, one with irregularities. Then I can use a light on the background, with different colored gels, and get different effects. If you wanted to you could have different colors with different children, but this might be more work than it’s worth. Even with a boom and an umbrella you’ll probably have trouble with a black background.
Thanks, John


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8/21/2009 6:19:01 PM

 
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