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How Would You Light This

How Would You Light This

Dyna_JeremFIN_lightI am lucky to have an incredible working relationship with a slew of the people I get to photograph. One of my favorites is Alissa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy. We first met when she fronted The Agonist, where we did an editorial shoot for Outburn Magazine, and quickly became fast friends and fans of each others work. Every time The Agonist, or Kamelot (of whom she sometimes does guest vocals for) would tour in the area, we would do a photo shoot. Since then she has moved on from The Agonist and onto the legendary Arch Enemy. This shoot however, was during a Kamelot tour. We were able to use the main stage of the Palladium in Worcester, MA for this shoot, she had an incredible dress (as it went with the Kamelot song and video) she is featured in) and a mask as a prop. We shot a bunch of shots of her standing, around a drum riser, trying to avoid getting it in the photo. Then she had the idea of sitting or lying down on the drum riser. I had her lay down, make the dress hang a bit to give a floating illusion. I boomed the rimelite grandbox above her and put two dynalite uni400s with parabolic reflectors about 5 feet on either side behind her at 45 degrees in to give even more separation from the background and a halo of light around her.  We shot a bunch with the set up but this is by far my favorite shot of the bunch.  The drum riser was taken out in post, but aside from that an minor contrast/saturation tweaks, this is pretty much what it looked like out of camera. Its one of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken, and was well received by fans and friends alike. Alissa is multitalented in everything she does, so it goes with out saying, incredible singer, artist, writer, and model. She always brings something different to every shoot, always has incredible ideas, and always has us work on both of our ideas together to come up with an incredible final image. I know anytime I get Alissa in front of my lens, we are going to create something incredible and iconic together, and I know Dynalite will always be the lighting I use to capture it. ~ Jeremy Saffer

“How Would You Light This?” With Kevin Ames

“How Would You Light This?” With Kevin Ames


Click here to see more of Kevin’s Work

The goal for the shoot was to have the model completely backlit with enough light wrapping around her to fill in her features. The super white background paper is lit with two Dynalite MP800 power packs each with an MH2065v location head aimed into a V-Flat. Each V-Flat is at a 45º angle to the paper, one on each side.

Each MP800 delivered 400 watt seconds of light. The light from each V-Flat is measured separately with a Sekonic L-758DR incident meter placed in the center of the background with the dome pointed at the camera. The V-Flat on the dark side was moved in until it matched the reading from the brighter side. Once each individual reading is the same, the light is even.

White sheer curtains are hung from another background stand in front of the V-Flats.

A reflected reading of the background (f/22) placed directly on the camera will make it middle gray. Add three stops of light to the exposure by opening up to f/8.0 and the background becomes white.

Vanessa wearing a white tutu is kneeling less than arm’s length from the sheers. The light from the curtains envelops her. The camera is set on Tungsten (Canon) or Incandescent (Nikon) white balance to create “Blue Vanessa.” – Kevin Ames


How Would You Light This: Vincent Ricardel

How Would You Light This: Vincent Ricardel

As seen in Shutterbug August 2014

As seen in Shutterbug September 2014

Vincent Ricardel had a unique vision for capturing in both still image and video of a “Human Butterfly,” using a variety of Dynalite heads and modifiers he was able to accomplish the desired lighting effects this project needed.  Each light was placed on opposite sides behind the model. Both of these lights were positioned high and aimed at a 45º angle toward model’s hairline. The spill created enough luminance to highlight the silk shear fabric that was sewn to resemble a butterfly wing.  The ends of each wing were held by assistants carefully moving the fabric to create texture and simulate a sense of movement.  The back-light created a dynamic effect not only on the hair but on the texture of the sheer fabric.

The spill from the Key, Fill and Background lights also created a soft-light on the dry ice hovering on the studio floor.

Key-Light- 71″ Grand, SH-2000 Bi-tube Head, and SP-1600  Studio power supply.

Fill Light- MH-2065v Head- with 12×16 softbox, Roadmax MP-800 Power Supply.

Two more SH-2000 heads, each powered with a XP-800 power supply, outfitted with a 35″ Grand Softbox with no diffusion.

It took one day to prep the studio and construct  a 1.5′ high retaining wall around the shooting area to contain the dry-ice from dissipating throughout the studio.  Another six hours to paint the model on day of production. Almost a full day to sew the shear and construct a pulley system to manually adjust the fabric to simulate the contour of the butterfly wings. The model had to move carefully since the ends of each wing was attached to her back with gaffer tape. The call time on the day of the shoot was 8am and the first shots were probably not made until 3pm. We wrapped by 5:30pm just under 3 hours of shooting for what took nearly 2 full days to prepare for.  Many thanks to my 4 photo production assistants, stylist, body airbrush make up artist, traditional make up artists, hairstylist, and the director of photography for the video content of the shoot as well as his 2 assistant camera operators who all made this possible.  

The video was back lit with two 2065 heads using 650 watt modeling bulbs. As I said above, the stills portion of the shoot ran till 5:30pm,  each segment of the video portion ran additional 3hrs.  Each segment was filmed and photographed over three days. Here you can see the completed Butterfly Video

BUTTERFLY from Vincent Ricardel on Vimeo.

How Would You Light This? : Rick Friedman

How Would You Light This? : Rick Friedman

Thad StarnerThis is from an assignment I shot at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, MA.  The MIT Media Lab is a hub for innovative creations and ore of my favorite places to photograph.  I was at the Media Lab looking for interesting projects to photograph when I met That Starner who was working on wearable computing.  Starner is now a professor at Georgia Tech.  The idea for this shoot came about when Starner showed me a pair of glasses that had a computer monitor in the center of one lens, which he connected to a small computer in his pocket.  With no preplanning, this is what I cam up with.  Little did I know this was the beginning of “Google Glass.”


The lighting on this photograph is 2 strobes and 2 computer monitors.  I had to match the brightness of the two computer screens to determine my exposure, matching the brightness of the large monitor in the background and the small computer screen embedded in his glasses.  To obtain the exposure I used the meter in my camera.  I needed a lot of depth of field for this shot, so that glasses and my subject were in focus.  My focal point was Starner, seen through the glasses.  The glasses were clamped to a light stand with a Superclamp.  The main light was a Dynalite MP-800 power pack and a Dynalite head with an extension tube, a grid holder on the end of the extension tube, a 10º grid and a sheet of Rosco Tough Spun over the grid to soften the light.


I really needed to control my light on the subject, so there was no light spilled on the glasses or the screen behind the subject.  Just off set, on the right side, I set up a speed light with Rosco yellow gel and a snoot made of Cinefoil to outline the frame of glasses with color.  The Cinefoil snoot was brought down so it was about a 1º opening.  When making shoots out of Cinefoil, which is black tin foil, you have flexibility to make any shape you want with any size opening giving you great control over the output from your Dynalite heads.  To determine the exposure of both the speed light and the Dynalite, I used a Sekonic light meter.  If you are maxing speed lights and studio strobes, you speed light needs to be on the manual setting and not the TTL setting.

See more of Rick Friedman’s “How To’s” of Location Lighting on his blog where every Tuesday he has another tip that he shares from his Location Lighting Workshops with Rick Friedman!