In the studio by Isabella Norman
Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever... it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything- Aron Siskin.
This quote I found whilst doing my routine mile long Pinterest scroll and when I thought about writing this blog post it was the first thing that came to mind. As last Saturday, I helped Kathryn in her endeavour to do more than simply photograph two families. She was attempting to do exactly what this quote says... to capture everything, even the little things about her clients, which due to the fog of time would have been unfortunately forgotten. Kathryn’s clients as well both had small children and so it was even more important to capture these precious little aspects of them as small children seem to be changing every day. Kathryn managed to capture all the small but important parts of her client in her studio in the Forest of Dean by making them feel comfortable and relaxed, which meant that the photos weren't forced or pressurised. This led to some beautiful photographs, which were true representations of each family. This is why I believe that the name of Kathryn's company 'Capture this Moment' is very fitting.
After watching Kathryn do this and attempting to assist her, I began to do some lighting experimentation with a friend of mine who was willing to model. I did this to gain more knowledge of the studio and the different affects you can get with lighting. I had previously tried to work with studio lights on my own with no guidance, except from the usually helpful but in this case misleading internet. The results were... umm let’s just say not what I had envisioned!
I started with a nice simple one light set up, so that I was able to see how different light positions can change the angles of people’s faces. To do this I used a constant light, as I could see before I even took a photo what shadows were created and so I could adjust accordingly. This allowed me to learn how shadows can emphasise facial features, can straighten people’s noses slightly and how to get the perfect 'catch lights'. To slim or show off a models facial features you position your light higher so that the high points of the face are lit but the contours of the face are not, which in turn makes cheekbones seem higher and chins more defined, sounds good to me I wouldn’t mind having higher cheekbones! This lighting worked well for my model as she already had lovely cheekbones but due to the lighting they became more defined and chiselled.
A similar trick is how to straighten someone’s nose, most people’s noses have a slight curve to one side but the illusion of a perfectly straight nose can be created easily with the use of light. This can be done by lighting the face in the same direction as the bend in the nose creating a small insignificant shadow on the other side, which helps to straighten it out. Another thing I learnt was how to create the perfect catch lights. I learned that they are always positioned at either 10 or 2 and if the catch lights are positioned here then the model’s eyes will seem to glimmer, like the eyes of a lover we have all read about in a cliché love poem.
After experiencing non digital Photoshop, I looked at a few other set ups one of which was butterfly lighting. Butterfly lighting is named aptly for the butterfly shaped shadow that is created under the nose, which I created with the help of Kathryn by placing the main light source above and directly behind the camera. Also, for this shot I used a reflector just to bounce a little more light into the subject’s face. When using this lighting I was basically shooting underneath the light but it was worth it, as this lighting set up is very flattering as it creates shadows under the cheeks and chin.
A different type of lighting setup, which I created was Rembrandt lighting. This setup leaves the subject with one side of the face lit and the other in darkness except for a triangle of light on the cheek. This effect is created with two lights a key light and a fill light. The key light should be higher than the model and at 45 degrees to the camera and the other light, the fill light, should be about eye level with the model and a lower flash power. However, what I didn’t do in some photos was to make sure the eye on the shadow side of the face had a catch light, as otherwise the eye as I found out will be “dead” and not have a nice sparkle. Rembrandt lighting is a lot more dramatic, and creates more mood and a darker feel to the image.
I experimented with a few other lighting set ups, for example I used a hair light and at one point a fan, which was just a bit of fun more than anything else. Thanks to Kathryn’s generosity to let me use her studio I was able to learn lots about lighting. I could have read about how the light will fall on the subjects face like this and then if you move it here it will do this instead but being able to do it yourself, and see what is actually happening is 10 times more helpful.