We all know that Hollywood lighting and posing evolved about 1920. It was then that photographers started to experiment with lighting, textures, and posing. Deep shadows were the norm and so was heavy contrast in every image. As I look at some of the old books, I identify what I learned from my mentors. It’s clear posing and lighting has never changed; in fact if you go to a Art Gallery or look at Rembrandt’s Collection of Art, it is staring in your face!
Just like I was taught, the pose is either a profile or it’s a two third’s view to the camera. After reading this article, please practice on developing your two thirds view, the lighting will all make sense later.
Here are the steps for posing and lighting this shot:
See photo 01.
Pose: Have her lean back her body to create body language. Have her brace herself on the one hand until she’s comfortable and there is a nice body tilt. I am not concerned with the hand to the right; it will be covered by a vignette as you will see later.
Lighting: I am using two lights to accomplish this image. The main light is this cool little light my wife bought at Bed Bath and Beyond store. It’s nothing more than a continuous light source that is daylight balanced and only uses 2 AA batteries.
See photo 02.
The second light source is a Quantum Trio that is on my camera set on my hot shoe. I know I need another light that will open up my deep shadows but will still give the appearance that I only used one main light. I point that fill light to bounce off the ceiling and I also have lowered the power to 1/8. I am in manual mode on my camera and my on-camera flash. My exposure is ISO 800 at f5.6 at 1/30 hand held.
If you don’t have a Quantum light, an SB800 or whatever you’re working should be fine. I had my assistant take the main light and move camera right of her face. Then I instructed her to get the main light high enough so that the light would cause a small shadow under the nose, called a butterfly light.
See photo 03.
Look close you should only see a small sliver of skin on the far side of the bride’s face and no ear visible. Now you can see what a real two/thirds view to the camera looks like.
See photo 04.
Remember whatever light source you decide to use (whether it’s a video light or a simple flashlight) you may have to consider custom white balancing the image prior to shooting. This image was shot in a hallway and there were a lot of overhead lights that were making this image yellow. Custom white balance takes yellow, magenta, or blue out.
If you don’t have a fill light, then once you have developed the light direction with the main light, add a reflector to bounce light back into the shadow area and that should work fine.
See photo 05.
Eyes need to have a specific direction; I think it’s important that they look higher to have more life and sparkle. Smiling is up to you. I, personally, think it takes away from the image. The only thing left to do is to add a sepia tone to antique the image and give it a feeling of an era gone by. The treatment I used is a NIK Filter; basically I used a sepia tone tool.
In the next couple of month’s I will be doing more of the 1940’s look. I’m looking into buying more props that will help bring the feeling to the era.
I hope you have enjoyed this simple exercise.
Jazz Age Beauties
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