Photo Shoot & Technique: Dark & Moody

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: June 7, 2010

Category: General

I got to spend some time in the studio this past weekend with model Danny Bartlett working on some more images for his portfolio and also some techniques that I’m looking at including in my workshop.

As usual, wanting to keep things nice and simple so that they can be easily replicated I stuck to using just the one light and one modifier; a Nikon SB800 Speedlight and a 46″ Silver/White Reflective Umbrella.

For the main shots the Speedlight was placed on a boom directly above Danny but aimed into the Silver/White Reflective Umbrella. Now usually for this set up I would have used the 60cm Lastolite EzyBox but as I’m wanting to get as much use out of the umbrellas as I can and push them to really find out their limitations, I did exactly that, and used the 46″ Umbrella attached to the boom using a Manfrotto Swivel Adaptor. The umbrella itself wasn’t locked fully open so that the direction of the light was controlled that much more so and came directly down onto Danny.

* The main thing to watch out for when using an umbrella in this way is the umbrella shaft as it can get quite close to your models head, especially if they are quite tall as in Danny’s case. The last thing you want to do is to injure your model however for these images it might have contributed to the ‘look’ quite well.

Getting just the right amount of light to fall onto Danny’s body took a few shots and the best result came when the light was above but slightly infront (roughly 45cm). Also instructing Danny to keep his head facing directly ahead and then also tilted forward allowed for virtually no light to illuminate his facial features; adding to the overall look we were after.

Having experimented for some time with the boom we then moved on to some headshots, again using the 46″ Reflective Umbrella which in the case of the image below was completely closed down and positioned to the left.

So as to avoid having the left side of Danny’s face & head fall completely into shadow, a silver reflector was held on the other side of Danny facing back towards the umbrella.

A plain white backdrop was used in the studio and that was turned to a darker shade of grey by the positioning of the lighting. However, you’ll notice from the ‘Start’ and ‘Finish’ pictures below that the background in the final image is a little bit different and that’s because this is actually a ‘Composite’.

In the next few weeks I’m going to show you the editing involved to take us from ‘Start’ to ‘Finish’ so make sure you keep an eye out for that one as there are a few techniques I’m really looking forward to sharing with you.

In the mean time if you have any questions or comments I’d love to hear them so please, as always, feel free to make use of the comments section below.

Enjoy 🙂

Keep up with Glyn ‘Day to Day’ on Twitter
Get more ‘Behind the Scenes’ by becoming a ‘Fan on Facebook’

You may also like…

Interviewed by Ron Clifford
Interviewed by Ron Clifford

A few weeks back I was invited onto Ron Clifford YouTube LIVE Channel to speak with him about all things photography....

14 Comments

  1. John Shim

    Can you photoshop me abs like that? 🙂 Thanks for the lighting technique tip.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @John…Mate if I could have used Photoshop to enhance my physique when I was competing believe me I would have…lol 🙂

      Reply
  2. Charlie Clift

    Is the headshot done with a high speed sync, i love the shallow DOF in it, it really makes the eyes stand out.

    You’ve also captured a brillaint expression in your model, which makes the image the most in my opinion.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Charlie…Hi Charlie, thanks for stopping by and for commenting.
      With regards to the headshot, no high speed sync was used. Just a simple case of opening up to f/2.8 and lowering the power on the flash head.

      Cheers,
      Glyn 🙂

      Reply
  3. David Kelly

    Hi Glyn,

    Really good insight into the ‘behind the scenes’ of this image I viewed on Flickr yesterday. Nice to hear this you’re working umbrella’s hard as it encourages someone like me who’s trying to get into strobism that good results can come from basic set-ups. If this is one of the looks from the workshop, I can definitely see myself using the ‘recipe card’ to gain confidence in doing this technique. I can even imagine trying out a dual set up with another flashgun in front of the subject with a flashgrid attached, and then messing around with power / zoom setting to tightly direct a little amount of light onto the eyes sockets only.
    (And hey with you retouching insights from last week I’m sure I can easily get those Terminator eyes on my model too ;-))

    I’m really looking forward to this workshop mate – you gotta get those dates firmed up soon! 🙂

    Looking at the head shot, that Nikon lens gives a really nice differential focus @f2.8 and looks tac sharp, but hey I wouldn’t expect anything less from Nikon lens (and that’s coming from a Canon man!).

    Looking forward to the insight into how the composite was put together with the background.

    Thanks again,

    David

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @David Kelly…Reflective/Shoot-Thru Umbrella’s are an incredible piece of kit and the more I use them (which is probably 90% of the time) the more uses I find. One big advantage of using the reflective umbrella on the boom as in this case was the weight difference; a very light set up making it easy to move around and reposition.

      Thanks again for taking the time to comment and I’d be really interested to see what results you produce with the grid.
      Cheers,
      Glyn

      ps> All this talk of the Terminator has given me an idea; might just see it when I put the editing tutorial together.

      Reply
  4. Rick Wenner

    Great shots here Glyn. You know I’m a huge fan of dark and moody images, so this is right up my alley. I really like the texture you’ve added in the final composite image as well.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Rick…Thanks for commenting mate; really appreciate it. Adding the texture as a background came about by having a bit of ‘play time’ in Photoshop; I’ll post up how I did it at some point in the near future.

      Hope all is well with you,
      Catch you soon,
      Glyn

      Reply
  5. Steve Porter

    Hi Glyn,

    Another great blog post. I am really looking forward to the start to finish post, i’m hoping you’ve got a really easy way of getting good results for composite backgrounds because i am useless.
    By the way what type of boom stand do you use and where did you get it i am struggling to find a decent one.

    Cheers

    Steve

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Steve…Hi Steve, thanks for the kind words mate 🙂
      I’m using a ‘C Stand’ with Boom Arm now from Calumet but have in the past just made a ‘temporary’ one with 2 light stands and a Manfrotto Magic Clamp. Re the composite, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the technique for this…really simple and really quick 🙂

      Cheers,
      Glyn

      Reply
  6. Noel

    Hi Glyn,
    a little late with my comment, but just wanted to say great moody shots, love them.

    all the best
    Noel

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Noel…Thanks alot for that mate 🙂

      Reply
  7. kelley

    Fantastic light. What a great set up with the umbrella. ooo la la, that’s what I say. I’m not sure if that goes with “dark and moody” though… 😉

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Kelley…Thanks for that and yeah ‘ooo la la’ is fine by me 🙂

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *