A Wobbly, Mixed-Lighting Portrait
For this week's blog installment, we have a rather simple (though underused) method of portraiture. We used "mixed lighting" for the desired effect. What I mean by mixed lighting is that we (I) employed both strobe and continuous lighting. That is to say, one light flashed, while the others were a constant source of lighting. What is the result? Well, it is that rather strange outline of my head on both sides. During the 2-second exposure, I shook my head side-to-side, and then froze for the strobe to fire. How was it achieved, you are asking yourself. Glad you asked!
There are two factors which allowed for this ghosting effect. First, I used what is called "rear curtain sync." All that means is that I told my flashing strobe to flash at the end of the exposure. Had I not used the rear-curtain feature, then the "good" part of the image would have been my shaking head. By using the rear-curtain effect, the blurring effect takes place as the continuous lights (or "ambient" lights) work their magic. That way, the blurring happens at the top of the exposure, then my pose is lit by the strobing light as the shutter closes. When we see images of people or objects moving very fast in ads or movies, the blur is behind the subject, not in front. Make sense?
The second factor is the difference between the effect of continuous and strobing lights. As explained above, the entire first part of the exposure is lit by the continuous lights. By the way, when I say "continuous", I simply mean that like any light in a room, they are on the whole time, while a strobe flashes for a very brief amount of time. So, during almost the entire 2-second exposure, those continuous lights are bathing me the whole time with their warm glow. As I jerk by head to-and-fro, the continuous lights slowly burn in, giving the outlines whenever I stop moving for a moment. Finally, at the end of the exposure, the strobe puts an end to the silliness, and freezes my visage with a crisp, sharp image.
As for the lighting, I had a beauty dish up high at camera-left, and a second light with an orange gel lighting the white paper in the background. After looking at the image in Lightroom, I decided it was too uniformly warm, and used the complementary color of my face as the color for the background.