Shadows are as interesting as the light. Chiaroscuro is a term used in photography, as well as cinema and painting, that literally means “light-dark” and originates from the Italian Renaissance. The shadows help define the image, making the two dimensional appear three dimensional.
The idea for this shoot was to have the model, Saori, emerging into the light from the shadows. To get that effect, I used a black seamless background, making sure that the key light did not spill onto it by keeping them well-separated. I started with a large gridded softbox close to Saori, on camera right to light the portraits and close-ups, highlighting Julia’s makeup work. By moving the softbox in very close, the light falls off quickly so the opposite side of her face is quite a bit darker than the side with the light. To control the shadow’s darkness I used a large white foamcore panel and a silver disk reflector for fill light.
For the full body shots, I really wanted to get the shadowy look, so I used a more focused light – a gridded strobe on a boom in front and above Saori. For an interesting background, I put a fog machine and another strobe to backlight the smoke/fog behind Saori. For some of the shots, I used a blue gel on the strobe to make a blue smoke effect. With this set-up, Saori’s face was well lit and her body gradually became darker, fading into blackness.
Post-processing was done with Lightroom 3.3 and Photoshop CS5.
Inspired modelling by Saori Sloan
Beautiful peacock themed makeup by Julia Lockley
Categories: beauty, Fog Machine, Glamour, lighting, makeup, Photography beauty, chiaroscuro, fog, fog machine, lighting, model, peacock, Photography, shadows, smoke, studio
Medusa: 1/250 sec, f/10, ISO 100
I was inspired by the ballet dancer photograph (see below) by Chase Jarvis and decided to try a similar lighting style for a photoshoot that I did last week. I was shooting body painting work by makeup artist Meghan Thomas for actor, model and dancer Genevieve Clements. The theme was Medusa, the gorgon of Greek mythology with venomous snakes for hair and the power to turn to stone anyone who looked at her face.
Ballet Dancer by Chase Jarvis
I wanted a dark, shadowy look for the Medusa theme, but also wanted to make sure that the body painting was visible. To achieve this, I used a black seamless paper background and positioned two softboxes behind the model, one on each side. This is similar to the set up for the Chase Jarvis ballet dancer shot. I then added two gridded strobes in front to use as spotlights for highlighting the makeup and body painting. I also used two large black foamcore panels to block the light from the softboxes to prevent lens flare (see the lighting diagram below).
Post-processing was done with Lightroom 3.4 and Photoshop CS5. I increased the contrast and did some light retouching, but kept the colours to highlight the body painting.
Let me know what you think. Do you have some lighting techniques that you use to give a shadowy look?
Lighting Setup for Medusa Shoot
Lighting diagram courtesy of Kevin Kertz.