As photographers we might obsess about this modifier or that one, believe me I have, but often times we fall short when it comes to shadow detail. This is something I struggle with from time to time when shooting in a new room and every shoot poses its own set of problems, so the purpose of this post is to share some basic concepts that I hope will help you maximize dynamic range and develop more details in your depictions.
On a snowy winter day, we crammed 18 people into a Chicago barbershop built for a dozen, so we could shoot the foldout magazine cover of Positively Aware’s annual HIV Drug Guide. It is always a challenge when you have to work with 13 subjects and have them all engaged, while maintaining the identity of the space and leaving room for the magazine logo, text, and the fold.
Let’s pretend for a moment I am sitting inside a reality show confession booth. Instead of disparaging the other characters on the show, I’m going to disparage myself (not really, actually. In my garage I have a garbage can full of modifiers. It looks like an episode of Hoarders in miniature, only instead of holding on to teddy bears and half-full beer cans, I collect things that make hard light look soft and in turn, make me look good.
One of the most popular questions I am asked is: what are those lights in the background of my portraits? Aside from the one time that I used a Profoto Monolight unsuccessfully, every other occurrence I can recall featured a vintage light designed by Mole-Richardson.
After being inspired by Sophie Palmer’s portrait depicting boredom with a Catholic priest inside the confession booth, below, I decided to try my hand at projecting divine patterns on model Alex Mitchell’s face by making a custom Cucoloris.