Video Light – bringing drama and movie-style glamour

Florence-5

I was very excited to be allowed to shoot in Head Hairdressing in Southsea for a Vintage/Rock-chic shoot with the fantastic Florence Stirzaker. The shoot was styled by Miriam King who created a classic make-up/hair combo. We wanted to do something with a vintage/rock look without the cheese-factor that rockabilly can sometimes bring.

I knew Head Hairdressers was a great place to shoot and would be perfect for the style of shoot, having a certain modern-retro feel to the interior.

I was also excited as I knew that my recently purchased video light would provide the perfect lighting. The dramatic fall-of of light creates a certain vintage styled glamour and Florence Stirzaker has a very classic look on camera. The owner of the salon opened up the front shutters to allow maximum light in, which I asked him to close again – I wanted something quite dark and sultry looking with the video light providing a spot-light effect on the model.

Video light is a continous light source so is a ‘What You See Is What You Get’ (WYSIWYG) light. Its also a small light source so, creates some definate shadows, meaning you have to be very specific in the positioning of it. I am looking for butterfly style lighting when using this; characterised by the ‘butterfly’ shadow under the nose. The relatively low power of the light, compared to a flash gun for example, is refelected in my camera settings. The main image at the top was shot at 1/60, f/2.8, ISO 1600. How did I get to these settings??

The salon was dark so I had to open up my aperture and ISO in order for the ambient light to register, also selecting a hand holdable shutter speed for my chosen focal length (I had two lenses at hand a 50mm and an 85 mm). At these settings the ambient light of the salon was just light enough to provide a bit of context to the image, and without the added video light Florence would have been underexposed. Having got to this stage I simply added the video light on Florence. The video light has a dimmable light switch on it so I adjusted the power so the exposure was correct for Florence at these settings, or, with the light on full power moved it closer or further away as required.

With my aperture quite wide I had to ensure the eyes were in focus; or at least the near facing eye with Florence’s head turned as in the above image.

For certain shots I added a back light using an off-camera flash to provide some rim-lighting, which I added a blue gel to…

Florence-19

I manually metered the flash to give just enough power. In fact with my camera settings as they were I needed the bare minimum of power for it to register (1/128th power). I used the blue-gelled flash in a few of the other shots later on in the sequence too to provide a splash of colour to a red wall (see gallery at bottom).

One other thing to mention is that I gelled my video light to Tungsten by adding the amber magnetic panel to the front. This was so the color balance blended with the ambient lighting in the salon from the overhead hanging spot lights. If I hadn’t had done this then the light from the video light would have looked cold (blue) compared to the ambient background and required lots of cross-processing back in Lightroom to get them to match. Make your life easier by getting the shots right in camera!

Coming back to the overhanging spot lights……

I wanted to do some wider shots, taking in the interesting and fitting items on the wall, however my video light would have been in-shot with Florence standing. She is also model-tall so would have been tricky for me to position correctly! Thinking on my feet, I used the overhanging existing lights as the key light. The lights overhead hang down from the ceiling on wire so could be ‘swung’ over Florence. This then was used as a continuous key-light source, looking once more for the shadow under the nose to get in position correctly.

Florence-11

I was very happy with this shoot and very grateful for the modelling talents of Florence Stirzaker, brining the perfect attitude to the shots, Miriam King for the awesome styling and Head Hairdressers for the perfect setting.

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