I did a portfolio review and shoot with Jon Gray. I’d seen him speak and watched his DVD before, so I was quite excited. I admire his work; it looks a lot like what I usually shoot – layered lighting, bold colors, and he’s not afraid to let shadows go to black. He also shoots quite different subjects – beauty, products, fashion, landscapes, etc and I appreciate that sort of broad interest. The review, however, was disappointing and did nothing to increase my understanding of my work and where I’d assumed he’d mentor me in the shoot with ideas about how to see the light and how to use color and shape to help tell stories, he instead put a fresnel over the strobe and left me to work with Elle Beth. She’s a great model, and we got along famously. Not quite the experience I thought I paid for, but I did get some fantastic images out of it. One thing I did get out of the evening was a couple of ideas around throwing colored fill lights around the whole studio in such a way that they show up anywhere in the shadows, instead of trying to angle them in through a modifier orthogonal to the key light and competing for the penumbra.
The fresnel is an interesting modifier. Rather than relying on total distance to change the shape (and intensity) of the light, you change the shape by moving the lens inside the chassis. This changes the focal point of the light, which in turn defines how soft the light is. You then change the size of the center bright spot by moving the light closer or farther from the subject. I only had an hour to play with it, but I can see how it’s a piece of kit that can take a very long time to master. To be honest, for closeup work, I think I prefer the control and even light of a beauty dish. A beauty dish doesn’t’ have a +2 stops hotspot in the center, and is easy to grid or diffuse as needs require. The fresnel, however, is incredible for moody 1/2 to 3/4 body shots, and would probably be good for whole body shoots too. I’m glad I got to work with the kit, but I don’t think buying one for myself is a priority.
Elle Beth has been making quite a name for herself in the London scene, and it’s always a pleasure working with a professional who’s confident, understands the needs of the photographer, and doesn’t get confused by my foreign accent and odd vocabulary. We found some things to talk about right away and had a few laughs during the shoot. She’s experienced enough that I didn’t have to work to hard to translate camera-speak into posing-speak, which made my job a lot easier.
As always, Click to Enlarge: