An aftertoon with Rebecca Tun
It feels like it’s been an age since I’ve had a proper shoot, let alone had a shoot in a studio. So this weekend I immersed myself in photography, shooting 4 models over two days in a new studio. One of the models I worked with was Rebecca Tun, a Cambridge based model (and photographer). I’d be lying if I said it all came flooding back to me, but the fact is I felt rusty and as far as shoots go, I don’t think it was one of my best ever. Normally I really love the buzz of a shoot and I generally know when I shoot a set if I’ve nailed an image. But this all felt a little different.
There were a lot of new things to cope with. First and foremost I was using a new studio, because the studio I used to hire has unfortunately gone out of business. It’s amazing what you get used to and how quickly you can find a comfort zone for yourself and then its equally amazing how strange things can feel when you’re taken out of that comfort zone. Now to be fair, the new studio is significantly better than the old one in pretty much every way. It’s a much larger space with plenty of room to shoot in (you can comfortably shoot full length shots @ 200mm on a full frame camera), a decent height and VERY well equipped. In fact, I had access to a ProPhoto lighting setup with pretty much every light modifiers my heart could desire.
But this in itself presented me with another problem. I know what lighting equipment and modifiers I own. I know what lighting equipment and modifiers were available to me when I hired the old studio. So this meant when I “planned” a shoot in my mind, I was always able to plan how to light it or shape it with the equipment available to me. But now, when new equipment and new modifiers are available, it was like I was learning everything from scratch. Now don’t get me wrong, it was a lot of fun doing this, but it did mean I spent a lot of time faffing about with lights, trying a beauty dish with and without a grid, trying a softbox with and without a baffle grid modifier, trying out strip lights, trying out a massive parabolic umbrella combined with the ProPhoto zoom system allowing you to vary the size of the hot spot and the feathering. So many variables ❗ Too many variables 😯
I’m not convinced I learned that much and to a large degree I stumbled upon lighting setups rather than explicitly planning and executing them. The setup for the shots above is shown below. I used two strip lights (not softboxes, but more like tubes; each had two flash heads allowing you control the power at the top and bottom of the strip separately, if you wish) as the main lights on Rebeccas left and right. These were the main lights. I then used a softbox to camera right, dialed right down as a fill. For shits and giggles I had the baffle grid on it to try and reduce the spill, particularly on to the background. The background, unsurprisingly was white and “lit” to be grey by increasing separation between model and background and also by keeping the lights closer to the model. The strip lights also had a set of barn doors on front of them allowing me focus the light more on Rebecaa and indeed flag them from spilling on to the background.
All in all I am pleased with the images and it was a privilege to be able to shoot Rebecca. But the dynamics were different and I don’t think there was much of a fun element to the shoot as I’m used to. Hopefully this will come back as I get back into shoots (fingers crossed). In the mean time, if any kind photographer wants to kindly offer their services in talking me through lighting, then I’ll gladly pay for model, studio and beers