The background that you use during a studio shoot plays an important role in generating mood and interest. Photographers invest a good deal of their time and resources in choosing their background. But sometimes, the most creative of backgrounds can come from readily available resources. Photographer Gavin Hoey from Adorama shares a simple background idea using a softbox and egg crate grids to create eye-catching portraits:
Background Setup with One Softbox and Grid
Hoey starts with a fairly simple setup for the background. He places a Glow EZ Lock 24″ x 36″ softbox with an egg crate grid behind the model. He then asks the model to turn and put her shoulder against the far edge of the grid.
Setting Up the Exposure
Since the background itself is a light source in this setup, getting the right exposure is crucial. You can get the correct exposure by trial and error or by using a light meter. For his purpose, Hoey meters the light for f/8 by pointing the dome of the light meter towards the light source.
Hoey begins by shooting directly from the front. The issue with photographing directly from the front is that the light doesn’t fall properly on the model’s face and that too much of the white of the softbox is visible.
“The solution for this is really simple. I’m just going to walk myself around, and take a much more angled approach to this.”
By moving a bit to the side so that Hoey is in front of the model rather than the background, the image improves instantly.
Using Two Light Setup as Background
Next, Hoey takes the shoot up a notch by adding one more softbox with a grid to the background. The softboxes are pushed up together with no gap in between them. With the light metered at f/8 again, he takes an image directly from the front. As expected, the image is not again flattering.
So again, Hoey asks the model to turn sideways and photographs her from the side. The result is much better but the background is still to white for anyone’s liking.
The solution is to increase the angle between the two softboxes and photograph the model from the front instead of from the sides.
Now that the images have come out great, Hoey suggests getting two ways to get creative with the results.
Instead of shooting with the white balance set at “flash,” set it to around 4000K or to the incandescent or tungsten setting. This adds a bluish tone to the image.
Using a pair of cool looking sunglasses, Hoey adds a finishing touch to the photo shoot.
Try this technique out and see how what kind of results you can get with a similar setup.
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