When it comes to photography and its many applications the only rule I follow is this – “There are no rules.” I am often complimented at the impact my images portray, but little do they know the steps taken to get the end results. I want to share with you a little bit of “Behind the Scenes”. Literally.
Working with the Westcott product line, I quite often find myself using softboxes, reflectors and scrims with an unconventional approach. An example of this is one of my favorites – the Westcott Scrim Jim. It’s very portable, versatile and multi-purpose. I use it outdoors to block (Scrim) backlight – using a 1-stop mesh diffuser. I swap out the diffuser for a silver reflector and use it as my main source of light, or exchange it for black velvet to completely block out the light. You see how much Jim can help around the studio!
In the examples provided though, I used Mr. Scrim Jim as my background. In the example shown of the girl, I put her directly in front of a silver Scrim Jim and picked up some nice reflections behind her, which I further enhanced in postproduction. The reflected light also created some nice highlights around her hair. Almost as a hair light. In the close up headshot, I pulled the light in closer, letting it spill onto the background, which created a brighter “high-key” image.
On the example of the gentleman, I swapped the silver for black and created a low-key fashion shot with basically the same light setup. The only change was pulling the lights back a bit and powering up a ¼ power. For both my key and fill light, I used a Westcott Strobelite Plus Mono Light Kit. I love these! Once I set my lights, I simply adjust the power with the dial from ¼ to full power as needed.
All great images are dependant on the control of light that is placed on your subjects. You are either adding light, or in many cases, using subtractive light. Shadows are just as important as highlights. They create depth and dimension. Whether the light is from Mother Nature or from studio flash, it must be controlled by the photographer to achieve the affect he/she is after. That is why every light modifier I have from Westcott is so valuable to me. It really helps me achieve my final image. I can quickly change the quality of light from a hard specular light to a softer light by simply adding diffusion. This is the primary use of most of these softboxes.
Many photographers – especially the fashion photographers steer away from using softboxes because the mention is that the light looks to “portrait”. Not always the case. I quite often use the Westcott Master Brush as a fashion and beauty light, and get very nice specularity and pop in my images. I simply remove the diffuser material in front, and let the light bounce inside the silver (specular) material and create a hard light on my subject. If I want a softer portrait, I simply add the diffuser back. The light is there but you as a photographer can modify and change the quality of that light. My personal taste though, is something in-between.
Not too soft – or not too hard – just right! Thanks Mr. Scrim Jim!