Studio Practice – Task 2: Portrait Pt 4

With a vision in mind today was the day to turn it into reality. Props in bag & battery fully charged, I was ready to get on with the task in hand. After a quick catch up at the start of today’s session, it was a case of ‘on your marks, get set, GO!!!’

Firstly, I had a chat with my classmate & model Shoresh. He had brought some props consisting of traditional clothing & books. Great, just what I had in mind. Shoresh went off to change while the class started constructing the set up.

As I’d be using just a single light source, Zig suggested I use the black background on the far side of the classroom. I was very thankful that my classmates were on the ball in helping get this up really quickly.

I then set up the camera with the flash trigger, setting it to ISO 100 & the white balance to ‘Flash’. I hadn’t set the aperture at that point, but more on that later.

Next was to set up the table with the props. I had brought a purple throw on the table to add to the dark atmosphere, covering the delightful grey plastic. I then arranged the candle with the books on the table. The idea was to have these in front of Shoresh & him sitting behind the table holding the leather-bound notebook. I then arranged the light on the floor, pointing the beam from the snood hood up onto the props.

Shoresh then came back into the studio having changed into his traditional clothing. Unfortunately, he’d forgotten the scarf, but luckily another of my classmates had brought in some scarves. One of these was a beautiful silk-like which was blue & orange. Perfect colours, as these feature quite heavily in the style of portrait I was recreating.

Next was get on with taking some photos & seeing the results. With a prompt from Zig, I quickly realised that a smaller aperture was required, so adjusted after the first few shots.

Not fantastic – a bit underexposed, plus the books didn’t look right. So I rearranged the props. Shoresh also added his prayer beads during these shots. Looked much better.

The next stage was to light the candle. In order to be as safe as possible, I had to ensure it was only lit for a short time. With Shoresh in place, I took the following shots then put the candle fully out.

I wasn’t sure at this stage whether the ‘shot’ had been captured. The best thing to do was to take a step away & get a cup of tea in the canteen. Perfect timing for the class to take a break.

When we returned to the classroom, I checked the images so far on the PC, but they still weren’t quite right. I rearranged the books, before placeing Shoresh into position again, this time with the scarf rearranged.

Again, there was still the issue with the lighting on the books. The spotlight needed to be higher in order to illuminate the bottom part. This was easily remedied by placing the light on a small stack of cardboard photo boxes.

Also, Zig suggested swapping the snood hood for a barn door one, which gave a better lighting effect. Again, once I was happy with the set up I lit the candle briefly again ensuring it was fully out when the photos had been taken.

After quite an intense three hours, I was just hoping that I’d got what I set out to achieve. Did I get that sought-after chiaroscuro? What I also realised during the session was planning & patience is key. Also, to be flexible if what is planned doesn’t quite go to quite as you think.

Criteria Ref: P1, P2, P3 & P4.

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