Shooting with Grid Spots can change the look of your image even when you use only one light. In today’s Slanted Lens lesson we are out on location in downtown New York City, Wall Street. We will be shooting corporate portraits using Grid Spots with the help of our talent Jay White. We will be looking at the area of coverage of the different grids and how to pan grids right and left in order to flag the light of the talent’s body and face.We used a Dynalight Pack and 20 degree grid to create most of the images because the tighter grid helps the images to look a little bit more dramatic. Then we put a warm Rosco CTO gel over the grid and changed the color temperature to 3800 to cool down the background. Since we were very mobile all day we attached our Dynalight 800 pack to a stand with a clamp that Dynalight makes for this purpose. To power the pack we used a portable light weight battery source that Dynalight is releasing in December. The grids and the power pack served us well during the day and I couldn’t be more happy with the final images we got on the shoot.
Hi, this is J. P. Morgan. Today’s Slanted Lens lesson, we’re here on Wall Street in New York City. We’ve got Jay White with me. Great looking guy. We’re going to do some corporate looking portraits of him with Wall Street in the background. Now, as we do these portraits, we’re going to do them with grid spots. We’re going to look at the area coverage for each of the different grids. We’re going to look at how to pan the grids right and left, in order to flag the light on the body and on the face. We’re then going to put a warm gel on our light. That allows us to dial the color down and give us a blue background. So, lets get started and see what we can do.
A grid is a honey-comb insert that you insert into the front of a nine-inch reflector. It’s purpose is to cut the area of coverage. There’s really no softener that’s added to the reflector. It’s just the grid, and then the hard light source coming from the reflector. To be effective with grids, one really needs to understand the area of coverage for each of the different sizes. I’m going to set the camera eight feet from the wall, and do a shot with each of the different sized grids so we can look at the area of coverage, and see how it affects the light pattern.
Hire’s a shot of our talent with a grid that is set eight feet from the wall. It’s easily a 10 foot area of coverage. The area of coverage will lessen as you move this closer to the subject, but when you set up 8 feet from the wall, you’re going to get about 10 feet. Now, the area coverage is distinct, you really see the circle. But the grid is filling in the shadows. When a grid is this large, the reflector sides is bounce and start to fill the shadows. Here’s a shot of our talent now with a 30 degree grid. Again ,the grid is 8 feet from the wall. The area of coverage is cut to about 8 feet. Lights become a little more narrow, but still bouncing around, so you see a lot of openness in the shadows. Here’s a shot of our talent with a 20 degree grid, now. Still, 8 feet from the all. The area of coverage is cut to under six feet. This grid is not bouncing around too much light around in the shadow areas, so it’s starting to get a little darker outside of that circle of coverage. Here’s a 10 degree grid. Again, 8 feet from the wall. It’s a very focused, distinct light, has quick falloff, and almost feels like a spotlight. I’m going to use a 20 degree grid for the shots we’re going to do today. I want the image to be dramatic, so that the tug of the light pattern, that’s going to help me achieve that look. We’re going to hang our Dino Light 800 pack on the stand. There’s a clamp that Dino Light makes that will hang this power pack on the stand. To power the power pack, we’re going to use a battery-powered source that Dino Light is going to release in December. This is a great lightweight power supply that works extremely well. We used it all day, and it was very effective.
You know, in New York, you don’t need a permit. If you’re not tethered to anything, that means if your camera is not tethered to a laptop, or your power packs aren’t running electrical cords to a generator, or something, you can shoot just about anywhere without a permit. So, today we’re going to put everything together with one stand, with the assistant with a light source, and the camera in my hand. We’re going to run around down on Wall Street, and get some pictures.
Let’s take a look at our lighting setup. This is our image with only the ambient light of the day. It’s an overcast day, so the soft light is going to look very nice in the background. I’m going to add my 20 degree grid for this first shot on the camera left side, and it will just light his face. Here’s our look.
The light has a tight enough coverage to give a really moody look to the image. The grid is a little out of place in this shot, though. It’s too far forward, and cause too much attention to itself on the wall. I’m going to feather it away from the camera, and cut some of the light off of the column on the right side of the frame. I’ll be feathering the light all day to keep even that small area of coverage under control. A lot of the time I’m not using that middle area of coverage, but one edge, one side, top or bottom. The day’s gloomy, so I’m going to take advantage of that blue light in the background. I’m putting a Roscoe CTO gel over the grid. I do this often, so it’s hardly worth mentioning, but it really looks nice when you have a gloomy, overcast day.
Here’s our result after we change the color temperature to 3800 degrees. Here’s some of the images from this first setup.
We’re very mobile, because of our setup, so we’re going to get out in the street, and start walking around, and see what we can get. In this image, his hands are very bright when we first setup. Again, we feathered the light up to allow that circle of coverage to kind of fall out of the sky. We’re going to use that circle coverage to light just his face, and let the lighting fall off on his body and hands. It’s interesting, because two people can set a light in the very same position, say a Rembrandt position, but you look at their images and get very different results. The reason is feathering the light. If you aim the light directly to the person every time, you get the exact same look. If you feather the light right or left, up or down, it changes the look drastically. So, play with that thought of feathering the light using the edge of the area of coverage, and not just the center. It gives a much different look.
We’re going to take our image into Nick’s software, and see if we can enhance it just a little bit. We’re going to push our brightness up to about three percent. Lets pull our saturation down to about a -42 percent. Lets push the contrast up. So, we’re going to up to about a 38 percent. That’ll give us a nice contrast. Lets now go to the local contrast, and push that up to about 40 percent. Maybe 42 as we look at what it’s going to do. I like the way this has enhanced this image. Now, lets go the images we applied this effect. First, we’ll go in and fill the whole image. Then, I’m going to go in with my brush. I’m going to hit erase, and then I’m going to in and erase the effects just slightly on his face. So, it warms it up just a little bit. With that, we’ll apply it, and there’s our final image.
Here’s some of our final images that we shot here on Wall Street. You know, we’ve had a great day, today. We’ve learned a lot about grids, how to use them, how to feather them. It’s important to use a grid and understand there’s a circle of coverage. Use the area within that circle the best light in our setup. You can keep the rest of the light off from the scene. Every time I do a lesson where I stop, and look at a basic principle of photography, I learn something. So, lets go out there, and use grids, and keep those cameras rolling, and keep on clicking.
We’re very excited about this last year here at the Slanted Lens. And to celebrate, we’re going to give away a Glide Cam HD2000 to one of our lucky viewers. All you have to do, go to TheSlantedLens.com, fill out the form, you can apply two to three different ways. You’ve got to apply before the 30th of December, and we’ll select one of our viewers to win a Glide Cam 2000. You’ve seen this in all our videos, great piece of equipment. Don’t miss out.
You know, I do want to mention a new sponsor that we have. It solves a problem that we’ve had so many times when we shoot on location these days. It used to be, when I would fly out to location, I would roll up to the curb. I’d throw around 30 cases on the curb, because the skycap $100 or $150, and he’d throw them all on the airplane. And those days are so gone, now. So, I’m always trying to decide, what do I ship? What do I try to rent there? Is there a place to rent it there? All those things are solved with our new client, our new sponsor, Lens Pro To Go. Lens Pro To Go is a company that takes your order, either with a phone app, or online, and you get all your equipment shipped to exactly where you are working. It’s really a great service, because when you’re done, you stick a label on it, and you ship it back. It solves so many logistical issues. And when you’re done, you’re ready to go.
Keep those cameras rolling and keep on click’n.