Monday, July 14, 2014

See the Light Series Vol 2: Constant Light by Mark Kitaoka

Constant Light Sources
Prior to learning how to use strobes I always used natural light for my images. In those days I use to say "Oh I only use natural light" with a bit of an elitist tone. The truth is I didn't know how to use artificial light of any kind be it strobe, constant light, reflectors or scrims! So I finally took the time to spend a week with Greg Gorman to learn the craft of lighting. Greg confirmed my greatest fear, "In many cases you'll have 10 minutes at the MOST to work with the talent you're shooting. You can't wait for the perfect light, you have to CREATE it!"
While I primarily use strobes for my commercial work whether the location is in studio or on location, I found that in some situations constant light is the best tool to create the mood I want. In some of my work the use of any flash or strobe would be too disruptive to the situation. Case in point, photographing during a rehearsal or when the talent would be distracted by a flash of any kind. I also tend to use constant light sources when I want the ambient light of the scene to be part of the 'star' of the image. Let's go through some of my examples:
Fresnel Spotlight
I realize that using a theatrical spotlight is NOT a normal constant light source for most photographers, but I've included these examples to illustrate that thinking 'outside of the box' in terms of what you can use for a light source will greatly expand your possibilities.


A high ISO was necessary in using a high shutter speed to freeze her movement using constant light. In this case I felt the noise adds to the grittiness of the scene which is what I wanted for her dance portrait.  
To photograph  Laetitia, a Cirque performer I used the Fresnel as fill for her face. She is only about four feet off the ground, but I was laying on my back to give the illusion that she is higher in the air!
Fresnel spots keep detail visible and add drama

LED Panels
Peter is one of the stage managers at Dallas Symphony Orchestra. I was commissioned to get an environmental portrait of him.


The mood and situations you want to create will dictate what light sources/modifiers will work best for you. Just keep in mind that a 'one size fits all' attitude will limit your ability to create compelling and dynamic imagery.

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