The gear

This little look was created in my cabin studio in a space no bigger than about 4×4 metres. I used:

  • 2 x Godox TT600 speedlights with in-built wireless transmitters
  • 1 x Godox X System receiver
  • 2 x basic light-stands
  • Magmod Sphere
  • Magmod creative gel kit
  • Nikon D810
  • Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8
  • Atmosphere In A Can (‘Canned Fog’)

Why this? Why now?

As a natural light photographer, working with flash and gels has not been something I’ve dabbled with much before.

So I did what I usually do when something evades me, I went and got some training from some industry leaders and went to town trying to make it work.

The first thing I will say is that in the 12 or so years I’ve been taking pictures, I realised that I have NEVER shot for me. I always have clients needs in mind, so am fairly limited in what I can create for them. I mean, not everyone wants to be photographed in a steampunk dress with crazy hair, holding a chicken do they?! (Unless you do… in which case, get in touch NOW).

Here is a little run down on what I did to create our ‘Rock God’ look…

This shot was set up with a basic light stand set about two feet behind Henry on both the left, and the right of him. A speedlite was connected to the top of each stand and pointing inwards towards him. Each speedlite had a different coloured gel on, in this case, one was pink and one was blue. This was shot at 70mm with the ISO set at 100, the aperture at f/14 and the shutter speed at 1/250 of a second. I had each speedlite set somewhere between 1/8th and 1/16th of power. To add to the image I had my assistant spray some canned fog across into the mid-point between the two speedlites, behind Henry.

What worked?

We were all pretty pleased with this result as it gave Henry quite a nice rim light on each side and in contrasting colours. The fog was lit up nicely on either side too providing a really nice, textured backdrop.

What could have been improved?

Looking at it now, I wish that I had added a neutral key light at the front to illuminate Henry’s face a little and the front of the guitar, including where his hands are placed. I would not have used the Magmod Spheres on both of the speedlites either as I would have achieved a wonderful flare from each of the lights if I hadn’t. As a result of this oversight, I have had to crop out the brightest point of light on each side as you can clearly see the Spheres in place on either side.

This image was shot at 70mm, at an ISO of 100, a shutter speed of 1/250 and the aperture at f/14. Exactly the same as the last one. The only thing we changed here was the positioning of the light. I left the speedlite with the blue gel where it was, slightly behind and to the left of Henry. Then I moved the pink one around to the front, in the opposite position to the one behind Henry. This was then used as the key light and illuminated Henry from an angle.

What worked?

Again, we really liked this one, especially the contrast of colours against one another. It was also nice to see Henry’s face and what he is doing here. It gives quite a nice ‘live gig’ feel which was the main aim of this shoot.

What could have been improved?

If I’d had another TT600, I may have one where the pink one was originally, again with a blue gel so that Henry had a rim light on both sides of him. This would have created some much needed separation between his arm, the neck and head of the guitar and the background. I would have also maybe increased the power of the key (pink) light or decreased the power of the rim light. This would have meant the focus would have been more on Henry and his guitar.

This image was shot at 50mm as I wanted to fit Henry completely into the frame. The ISO remains at 100, the aperture has been changed to f/10 here so that the backdrop is slightly more visible but the shutter speed remains at 1/250 of a second.

To make things even more simple, I ditched one of the speedlites and placed the remaining one (complete with blue gel) directly behind Henry, about halfway up his back and facing him.

What worked?

Gladly, most of it! I was deliberately aiming for a silhouette style image and this is what I got. It has a wonderful gig poster feel to it which works perfectly in this context.

What could have been improved?

Having blown this up and inspected it, I can notice that the light behind Henry has illuminated his ears so I would have covered the back of his ears with dark electrical tape to prevent this (yep, apparently that’s a ‘thing’ in the world of studio photography)!. Also, there is a very small amount of light reflecting from the ceiling onto his forehead and shoes so I may have had to use flags to prevent this. The only other thing is that I had used a muslin backdrop which had fallen down onto the smooth wooden flooring and had to ‘clean’ this up in PhotoShop. I would have perhaps used an all-in-one solution to prevent this.

Exactly the same as the silhouette image, this was shot at 50mm to fit Henry entirely into the frame. The ISO was set at 100, the aperture at f/10 for a little more background detail and a shutter speed of 1/250 of a second. The speedlite with the blue gel was left exactly where it was, behind Henry and about halfway up his back. The ‘ditched’ speedlite was brought back into play, extended up quite a bit higher and placed to my right, facing Henry at about a 45 degree angle. The gel was taken off so that a neutral/warm light illuminated Henry from the front through the Sphere. A grid was added to prevent the spill of light from affecting anything other than Henry.

What worked?

This was, by far, my absolute favourite image of the set. It is almost perfect (in my eyes and wearing my ‘Mummy Goggles’ of course). The pose, the expression on Henry’s face, the colours and the composition just work for me and I’m really proud of it. It’s one that has already been printed, ready to frame for the wall.

What could have been improved?

There are only two things that I think I would have changed on this image. The first is that I think I would have swapped out the Magmod Sphere on the key light for a larger modifier, perhaps even a strip box to illuminated Henry from his head down to at least the bottom of the guitar.

The second, and probably most irritating oversight being that I wish I had plugged the bloody guitar in.  (!!?#@!!)

Still, we live and learn right?