Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ken Shung's Lighting Class #8 - Back to Basics (final class)

April 13, 2010 - Today was one of those days, where by the end of the day, I just didn't have the mental or physical energy to do much more; but the day was not yet over. We've all been there, at least once or twice in our lives, and of course mine happened to be today. So what do you do in those situations? ... I'm sure we all want to say F* it and do it the next day! Sometimes we'd like to do that, but not today... So, what do you do? Get up and do what you have to do! That's what!

So, yes, I power through. In Cantonese, there is a saying - "Ga Yao" ... literally translated, "Add Gas/Oil"... and, well, that's exactly what I did to get through my 6:00 pm. Ken Shung lighting class tonight. I added gas and powered through. Wondering why I'm even mentioning this in this article? There is a point, and I'll get there in after a few more sentences.

There will be times when you are just exhausted and too tired to do much, or when you're in a situation where you are STUCK trying to figure something out and you're at a stand still. Well, that's where I was. In class, wondering what type of lighting set-up I wanted to prepare and how much energy I wanted to exert. I thought to myself - simple and easy. I don't need to make things complicated, I just want something simple. And of course, I still wanted them to look amazing. :D Conundrum. Simple, yet beautiful? So, as I was there thinking about what I wanted to do -- and similar to when you're stuck solving what seems like an unsolvable puzzle, you go back to the fundamentals and the basics. Back to basics. That's an interesting thought. Why not! So this is why the story is important... before there were kino flo lights, beauty dishes, soft banks, strip lights, ring flashes (and the drummer keeps drumming), there was light. A single light that allowed photographers to take photographs -- i.e. painting with light. Years, decades, centuries have come and gone where all anyone needed to take a photograph was ONE light. And that's what I mean about going back to basics. But is it achievable to take a photo with ONE light and make it an editorial piece for a magazine, or a photo to tell a story in an advertisement. Of course! So I used my exhaustion to my advantage and decided to go back to basics with one lighting set-up.

So, I asked Ken for some advice and he gave me his secret "lighting" weapon. I won't say what I used in today's class, or else I would have to kill you, or he may kill me. . . But, I will share with you some of my photos. :D

Today's theme (unknown to his students) was bikini wear. Interesting. :D What do I ask the model to do? Simple -- model the bikini. That's the least I can do.

Model: Megan Averbuch

The photo above was one of first three photos I took.. and that's only because my pocket wizard wasn't working with my camera... sigh, that was the last thing I needed today. Murphy's Law at work... So, after futzing around with the camera for a good 10 minutes -- it still didn't work. And again, I followed my photo shoot motto of "Back to Basics" ... and methodically went through my camera options and figured it out... and here I go again, painting with light. :D

The interesting thing about one light is that there is an unevenness of tonality/color in the background . In some photos the unevenness created a funnel look, that makes your eyes follow through to the main part of the model's body. Tunnel vision. Then there are harsh shadows in some. I wouldn't say its a perfectly lit lighting set-up because there are uneven tones in the background (and some people may not like that), but none-the-less, it made for some interesting looking photos that I really liked!

Tunnel Vision

Hard Shadows

After I had what I wanted with the bikini ... I decided to improvise and do some other things...

How about a hair commercial?

or, Shopping while wearing a bikini (it happens in Miami!), so why not?

I thought the photo was funny -- A beautiful model with poland springs water and an empty food basket. :D but also, the harsh shadows were cool!

and the ones below remind me of:

an apple iPOD commercial ; and a girl from The Hills shopping at a beach supermarket.

And, that's it folks.

What do you think? Pass or Fail with these photos?

One last departing thought. Ken mentioned something to me while I was taking these photos and I found it amusing. He said that using one light source, or this light set-up, can either make your photos look like bad lighting or just bad porno lighting. I couldn't help but laugh considering I was shooting a model in a bikini and I definitely could have asked her, if willing, to pose in some provocative ways (but, this is PG-13 kids!) -- so no, I wouldn't have posted those photos! Also, yes, I could have added another light, but again, people used to shoot with one light all the time, so, I was in the moment shooting with one light. :D

In my humble opinion, sometimes, all you need is one light. Sometimes, you don't need to have 2, 3, 5, or 10 lights on to make a great photo . . . one light CAN be all that you need. And sometimes, going back to basics can really ground you and help you focus your mind on achieving what you need to do. :D So, regardless if you're using 1, 2, 3, 5, or 10 lights -- one light can make a great photo!

one last departing picture... this photo is of Megan in her day wear. Cute. :D

and, my friends, this is our last class... and this is likely my last posting with photos from this class. I hope you enjoyed it!

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