What’s the Difference? is a series of video lighting tutorials. Each episode responds to a single question. In this episode, Jared Platt compares shooting with and without Grids on his flashes. The entire series, including all videos, articles and lighting diagrams, is available at our website. And feel free to leave a question to Jared in the comment section if you have one!
High School Senior Portraits have become more and more elaborate, almost like little mini fashion shoots. Very few of my senior portrait sessions are shot with natural light alone. In fact, many of them can end up just like this shoot. Lighting is a big part of the success of a stylized senior portrait.
For this lighting challenge we wanted to compare how Grids change our lighting scenario. One scenario includes all lights without any Grids. Our second scenario includes a Grid on every single lighting source. As you’ll see, that small change changes the image drastically.
The Basic Lighting Setup
Our setup for this photograph started with us dialling in the background. The exposure had to be perfect to get those glowing hot shards of metal flying through the air. 1/60 sec. at f 2.8 at ISO 100 did the trick!
Next, we added our lights. You can see from the shadows that all of our light came from one place, left of frame. One bareheaded Profoto B1 Off-Camera Flash was placed behind the large metal cutting machine in the very back to cross light the corrugated metal wall.
Another B1, modified with a Zoom Reflector, was placed off frame left pointing back toward the model at a 45° angle to light the equipment, the welder and the model.
One more B1 cross light was placed in front of the metal cutting machine to help illuminate bits of that machine and, more importantly, to create a rim light on the welder to separate him from the background. All of these lights created the mood for the shot.
Adding Drama with Grids
If all you had seen was this first shot, you might be satisfied. There is nothing wrong it. But it isn’t quite complete yet. It needs more drama!
So what we did was that we added a Grid to every light. All of our background lights got Grids and the main softbox got a Softgrid.
By adding these different Grids, we were able to focus the light on their targets and eliminate any spilling light on the background.
In the first shot, the background and the model are competing for attention. In the second, our model is the obvious attention grabber, and even though the background fades into darkness, it is a rich shadow, full of interesting details.
To sum things up, if you don’t have Grids, get some. If you do have Grids, get to know them and the effects they create. They make a big difference!