I was testing some new lighting modifiers on g
uinea pigs volunteers Dewitt and Haley.
A test, as in this case, is where, in exchange for images (and/or prints), models volunteer their time so I can test the behavior and become familiar with the lighting equipment. It is experimental and there are no guarantees. The number of finished images is more limited than a paid session, and it’s really dealer’s choice.
For this session, I was testing the effects of some new modifiers on headshots.
Truth be told, the risk was fairly minimal. I went from a 22″ beauty dish to a 17″ one – from the “old school” Paul C. Buff white to the Elinchrom Minisoft. I also tested the Buff 64″ parabolic in soft silver. What I’m looking for are very technical issues – light falloff, control, wrap, specularity, etc.
The beauty dish – once my favorite modifier – may come to the forefront once again. The Minisoft is very manageable in terms of size, and it does possess a sculpting ability that I adore. This image of Dewitt illustrates it’s “chiseling” ability to define facial structure:
Light falloff is very rapid, illustrated not only by its characteristics with respect to illuminating the face but also – in comparison to the PLM, below – its effect (or non-effect) on the background.
The parabolic is a large source, very efficient and able to spread light over a very large area. To me, its light does fall off with respect to the subject, but can carry all the way to the background. Compare its look (with the same subject placement) of the background in this image of Dewitt to the beauty dish example, above:
There is a kicker adding the highlight to camera left; otherwise the face is fairly sculpted, though not as dramatic as the beauty dish.
I love this light for women as it is very light and bright (pardon the pun(s)) as illustrated by young Haley here:
Different looks with different modifiers and all different approaches to the headshot.
A paid session gets what you want. A test is designed to get the photographer what he wants. I don’t do very many of these (well, except lately as I am changing studio systems), and the results can be pot luck. But they’re fun. I wouldn’t count on them for professional use (for you portfolio, headshot, or comp card) but when they occur it’s not a bad idea to participate.