Saturday, April 11, 2009

Crazy Booth!

I just finished post-processing photos from my first "crazy booth" photo shot. We hosted a party tonight, so I set up the lighting gear and invited my guests into the studio. The only rule was that everyone had to act silly and that they *should* wear or use one of the props I made available.

If you're a strobist, I'd highly recommend giving this a try next time you're hosting a party. Set up your lights ahead of time, making sure to get everything just right. You can get away with a single flash, but make sure to use a shoot-through or reflective umbrella, and keep it around front, 45 degrees from center and a little overhead.

I shot against my seamless 107" charcoal paper background, with three lights:

1. Key light
Alien Bees B800 - above, camera right with large soft box (32"x40") and grid, fired with built-in optical trigger

2. Fill light
Nikon SB-28, 2 stops below key, camera left into 43" reflective umbrella, fired by Pocket Wizard wireless tranceivers.

3. Background light
Nikon SB-26 through Honl 1/4" Grid, pointed down towards background from 7ft, fired with built-in optical trigger

You can see one of my test shots in my previous post, here.

Keep the subjects far enough from the paper that they're not casting shadows on it. I light lighting the background with a grid or snoot, aiming it right behind the subjects. This gives the shot a natural vignette that you can amplify in post-processing very easily. Make sure to keep the lights off to the sides enough for some good depth, and to help prevent reflection in your subjects' glasses. I like keeping my fill like 1.5-2 stops darker than my key - this fills in the shadows while preserving depth and preventing the lighting from being too flat.

One other note is that my basement studio has light green walls which would be a nightmare if they reflected back onto the subjects. To prevent this, I use a grid on my large soft box and a reflective umbrella to keep most of the light hitting the subject and the edges of the background.


Jeff said...

You do sound like one crazy obsessed dude, but looks like fun. :)

Love the lighting you got here. Still waiting for my SB600 to multiply

Kenneth said...

How do I get permission to use one of your photos on a web site?

Blake said...

Kenneth -

Sorry for the late reply - just email me at