by Scott Stulberg
The definition of photography means “Painting with light” and I am always looking everywhereI can for great light to paint my subjects with. In my Eye to Eye class here at Better Photo, I love to see how many different light sources my students can come up with to create images that are pretty stunning. One of the hardest times to shoot faces is after the sun goes down and many people are uncomfortable with shooting with flash and setting up hot lights, cold lights or especially strobe lights. It can be a bit intimidating to use different kinds of light sources and some people like to keep it as simple as possible.
While in Denmark on a recent trip to Europe, I met a very powerful looking soccer player and asked him if he would pose for me. We took many different shots outdoors that day and stopped for dinner at sunset. After dinner while sitting in the living room, I wanted to try something different and turned off all of the lights and placed him next to two candles. His face took on a whole new dimension than the outdoor shots and I knew I had to capture it right then and there. With the low light, I put a tripod on the coffee table I set my camera to ISO 1250, and shot him at f4 and a half second exposure. I had a candle on each side of his face and I loved the feeling that I was getting. With the f4 aperture and the low light, the sofa behind him became a nice, soft muted backdrop.
I then decided to shoot him with one candle and left one on his right side only. I had him turn his head to more of an angle rather than straight on and kept one hand under his chin to steady his face because of the low light. I also had to increase the exposure to 1.3 seconds because one candle produced so much less light than two. Having him try and keep perfectly still for more than a second was a difficult task and I ended up with many blurry pics. But the ones that came out sharp were just what the doctor ordered…..and most people would have no idea that my only source of illumination for these shots were candles. Imagination and creativity go a long way in photography.