The quality of lighting…

Well, the kiddo is this close to actually crawling, and if I thought photographing a baby was difficult before, it sure is more so now!  We get things set up and comfy on his blanket in the sun, and no sooner do I get the camera out then he turns and faces the sun (or away from the sun.)  Fun times.  I won’t even go into what the mechanics of the bribe involved – getting a smile out of Corbin is difficult when he needs a nap.  Not to mention the bright sunny weather was a breezy 50ish degrees – which doesn’t put him in the best of moods either.

Not that I’m complaining about the weather, nope!  Last winter at this time of the year, I was busy cursing the weather gods for dropping a ton of snow on us when I was heavily pregnant with Corbin.  This winter has been eerily warm and non-snowy.  I think we’re all just waiting for the big one to hit and drop some 4 feet of snow on us in one memorable weekend.

Anyway, back to the title subject – sleep deprivation is starting to kick in again and I’m meandering.

Oh yeah, lighting.  Yup.

I’ve never really worked with back lighting before, and it was a lot of blown-out highlighty fun.  When Corbin cooperated and stayed in one spot, you could see that he has hair! See, I told you guys that he wasn’t bald, and now I have proof.

Technical stuff:  I learned pretty quickly that the camera light meter had 5 sort of fits when I worked with back lighting, so I had to play things by ear a bit.  I could have reset the meter to spot meter and just metered off of his face, but that took way more time and energy than I had when corralling an 8 month old and preventing him from tasting the pavement.  Or chewing.  Whichever he thought he was doing.

Intellectually I knew that back lighting works best with a fill-in flash to open up the eyes of your subject.  Ugh.  Not only do I not have the right flash, I’m really leery of popping a flash on my infant son over and over.  It just seems bad for their eyes, not to mention the possibility of triggering seizures.  Paranoid much?  Yup.  So no flash.  What I did do was try and position the light colored blanket he was laying on to reflect a little light.  It didn’t do much, but it was better than the brick that absorbed light.

If you’re reading this for tips and hits I suggest that you shoot a lot in raw when trying back lighting.  And chimp a lot, it helps pinpoint your exposure.  {Chimp: to continually check your images on the LCD screen}  Technically I think that’s probably cheating, but if it helps, who really cares?  Your positioning as photographer really helps too – you want your subject to block the sun, leaving light to blow over their heads a little.  Too much light and you end up with a halo looking effect, or totally losing the subject in the sun.


Last, but not least, please remember that I’m not a pro.  Not at all.  In fact, I’m looking at this shot now thinking it’s a tad muddy.  Ick.  Another round of editing is in order.


2 thoughts on “The quality of lighting…

  1. Great portrait MP. Perfect look on his face… and with the glasses, he looks as if he is a CEO just delivering the news that stock has gone up. Good call on the reflector….(a couple of extra cloth diapers in the bag might end up having several uses) I don’t see what you are calling muddiness…do you mean in the contrast? Doesn’t bother me in the least, I think it adds to the softness of the skin.

    • I’m paranoid about my prints looking muddy – a leftover from the darkroom I guess. By muddy I mean the midtones and highlights are too dark. I guess you could call that the contrast, but it’s not really. It seems to be really difficult for me to get skin tones right in B&W for some reason. Glad you like the shot!

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