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Old Dec 31, 2008, 2:11 AM   #1
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After reading Zach Arias' series on shooting on white seamless paper, I was curious to give high-key lighting a serious attempt. I first purchased roll of arctic white seamless paper at my local Calumet, a pair of 1/4-20 wing nuts, and a broomstick handle from my local Lowes to try and use my existing two light stands to hold up the seamless paper. I quickly learned that after unrolling the seamless to the floor, the roll wanted to continue unraveling. Luckilly, I was able to stop the unraveling with my hands and realized I would need some clamps to stop the roll. I also realized that, although already having two Ultrapod IIs on hand, I would actually need my light stands to hold up my strobes.

Therefore, the next day I returned the broomstick and got a pair of A clamps back at Lowes. I also returned to Calumet to buy their background stand kit, which was a hefty $119 but came with two very sturdy light stands, a 4-piece crossbar, two knurled nuts for holding the crossbar securely on the stands, and a carrying case. Yes, I could have gotten a similar kit from B&H for $99, but shipping would be another $15, so I bit the bullet on the tax and went w/ the Calumet kit.

Now with everything in place, I had to work on the lighting setup. To try and get the background lighting as even as possible, I positioned the flashes at 30 degree angles to the seamless paper. One flash was strapped to one of the background stands via the Ultrapod; the other Ultrapod-mounted flash simply sat on top of a desk off to camera left. After various test shots, I locked in the flashes' power settings to 1/1 and 1/2 power to get the background close enough to white. In-camera, the background did appear white. However, looking at the photos in Lightroom, the background was not evenly lit, as it had some darkening near the top; luckilly upping the exposure in Lightroom fixed that problem.

Following Zach's advice, I positioned myself as far away from the seamless paper as I could; as I did this quick test in my bedroom, I could only move about 3 feet away from the paper and still be in focus with the DA* 16-50. Luckilly, this was far enough to minimize the effects of the background flashes. In order to illuminate myself, I mounted another flash on a lightstand and covered it with a shoot-thru umbrella. This flash was positioned right next to the camera on camera left, and was positioned slightly above and pointing down towards my cheek. Because I was somewhat distanced from the effects of the background flashes, I could adjust the power output of this umbrella flash independently to illuminate just myself; various test shots resulted in 1/2 or 1/4 power (don't recall the exact power used).

Here's the result of my first attempt at this technique:

I think with more time (took these photos around 10PM in just over a 40-minute session) and more space to work with, I could probably get a good full-body portrait without needing much PP work at all! Very cool technique that can be achieved with relatively little money (excluding the background stand kit, which one could substitute with PVC piping or something else to keep the price low).

And here's the link to Zach Arias' first tutorial on white seamless photography: http://www.zarias.com/?p=71

- Jason
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Old Dec 31, 2008, 8:34 AM   #2
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Excellent shot! Lighting looks good to me (though I know next to nothing about this type of photography). It looks very natural, though it does sound like a fair amount of work.
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Old Dec 31, 2008, 1:36 PM   #3
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Looks nicely done to me! Thanks for sharing your lessons learned.

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Old Dec 31, 2008, 8:44 PM   #4
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Illuminati wrote
And here's the link to Zach Arias' first tutorial on white seamless photography: http://www.zarias.com/?p=71

- Jason

I am the type of people shooting first and asking question/checking manual later on. First time I tried some high key lighting was with primitive equipments - fill flash and 2 reflectors.


Keep up with the good work and keep us posted as to your progress. I am doing some comparison reading as to different approach and set up


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