This is an extract from my recent lighting book that creates some amazing results!
In fact, I like them so much that I have decided to publish this series separately here to further explain my approach and story behind it in a more elaborate way.
There are also some cool behind-the-scenes images waiting to be discovered by you 🙂
One Setup Out of Ten
That day I was producing ten different lighting situations – just a fraction of what had to be done for my recent lighting book. It felt like an industrial production… Several flash heads, endless modifiers and different backdrops were waiting to be used in different combinations, directions and situations.
The star was undoubtedly Jenni Czech yet the lighting design played quite a big role as well..
It was once more a day planned right down to every last detail.
Jenni had to pass through several look-transformations during the day but despite this stress she stayed positive and full of energy all production long. It’s a delight to work with such highly motivated professionals like Jenni Czech!
The Series’ Story: A Nerd’s UFO Phantasy
Story? Well, there’s none 😉 As said, the purpose was to design another lighting setup. But looking back now, it seems to me as if Jenni has sighted a UFO. Like she gets beamed up in a few, fully clothed in her birthday suit…
Sounds weird and nerdy? Well, that’s OK – I am nerdy 😉
In visually inspired words: I just like the emphasis on the body lines the light creates. The limiting lighting greatly develops Jenni’s wonderful curves.
Lighting & Posing: An Interplay
Exploring the UFO, meaning looking into the light’s direction, was mainly due to the fact that the key light shines strongly from top down.
If Jenni were not facing towards the light, we would get extremely unaesthetic and dark shadows in the eye-sockets and over wide parties of her face. Also the shadow under her chin would be brutal!
So the only possibility is to have the model stretch the light.
Et voilà: Spielberg’s “Close Encounters…” is implied (did I mention being nerdy…?).
1 Light. 1 Boom. +20 Minutes
It took us only 20 minutes to implement this series.
Sure we were producing in a fully equipped studio, surrounded by all the gear that makes the photographer’s life easier. Yet this set is really trouble-free to replicate.
You need a flash head and a beauty dish with grid. A boom arm makes it more convenient to place the light in the right position, but if need be you can also hang the flash from the ceiling.
It’s just important that the throw (beam) comes exactly (in a 180 degree angle) from top.
So a normal light stand won’t be sufficient since a bigger inclination angle than ca. 130 degrees is simply not possible. At least with my monoblocs it won’t work.
And, oh, yes: even if it were, the lighting stand would always be visible in the images.
Key Light & Reflector
The key is equipped with a grid. The grid is important because it better limits the beam from expanding.
This has a direct impact not only on the very precise lighting on the model but also on the background’s darkness.
If you cut out the grid, the black backdrop will just turn greyish because of the unwanted light-spill.
I finally shot two variations with this lighting design: key light only and a key light with a reflector as fill (bounce-back). For the reflector I used a small Sunbounce (Sun-Bouncer Mini Gold) but any inexpensive 5in1 disc reflector would do the same job.
I have used a golden one because Jenni’s skin was nicely tanned. The golden side supports the warm tones while a silver one makes light harsher and washes tanned flesh tones out.
A white reflector – not aluminized or “glossy” – would just not be effective (strong) enough to bounce back.
I like both variations. Without the reflector the emphasis lies on the models face and upper body, with the reflector you get an almost evenly lit three-quarter shot.
I guess the aliens would have preferred the reflector-variant as they were to see more of Jenni’s beauty before soaking her up…
Even if you are not a Sci-Fi fan like me, I really recommend you try this setting at least once.
It’s easy to create and interesting in the results it delivers!
Behind the Scenes
The usual & when things are getting out of control, lol…;-)
- 1 Flash head (head & pack system) 280 Ws. Though you can shoot this with a monobloc easily.
- Key light: Beauty dish 32’’/80 cm, silver coating
- Sun-Bouncer Mini Gold, yet any disc reflector will do the same job
- Nikon D700 (full frame)
- @ 85mm
- ISO 100
ESSENTIALS. Studio Lighting for Nude Photography
Lighting Blueprint. Theory, showcases and exercises. Extensive theory part to strengthen your practical work. 19 all-inclusive case studies/lighting setups for 1, 2, 3 & 4 lights. Featuring Jenni Czech & Melisa Mendini. Sexy Women Photography at its best!