Canon EOS 5D Mark II - CAMERA
58 mm - LENS
F 6.3 - F-STOP
1/60 sec - SHUTTER SPEED
200 - FILM SPEED
Mixed - Fluorescent/Flash - LIGHT SOURCE
Fluorescent lights are a notoriously weak light source, the bulb used here had an output of a mere 32w making it very difficult to use flash as a fill light without it overpowering the fluorescent key light. Their are a few things you can do to work around this, firstly you may have an old 200w flash head hidden away that you don't use anymore because it's to weak, this is an ideal time to dig it out. Failing that you can lower the apparent light falling on the subject by either moving the light further away, bear in mind this will make your light source visually smaller in relation to the subject therefore giving you a 'harder' light (imagine your nice wrap-around light of a close softbox becoming not so wrap-around as you move it further away). Alternatively you could leave your nice 500w light where you want it and reduce the apparent light output by using neutral density gels. Once again this is another invaluable piece of kit for a photographer who is shooting on location, these gels placed over lights can diminish the light by as much as 4 stops with a single gel, and as the name suggests they are neutral in colour so they wont leave any strange colour casts. With some careful light metering and patience using fluorescent lights in shots like this can give a very interesting glow to the subject, it is not very often that you would have your key light actually in shot so the fall-off of light can provide very dramatic results if used correctly.
Another point to remember is that fluorescent lights as a rule give out very narrow spectral bands of light which are very deficient in any red waves of light and tend to give off a diffuse eerie green glow. When using film you would normally need to use an appropriate lens filter to compensate for this colour cast, but with digital it is possible to counter this effect in post production. Here I mixed fluorescent with flash meaning that when I altered the colour balance afterwards to compensate for the green hue the areas of the image that were affected by the flash shifted towards the red end of the spectrum which can be seen in flecks of the dark hair. This is something to bear in mind before shooting, I got away with it here because of the dark hair colour, if the hair had been a lot lighter in colour, the cast would be far more apparent.
D.I.Y Ring Light
This light can easily be made at home using just a few key items found at almost any hardware store. The bulb being the most important part comes in many different sizes so choose the one which will best suit the project. Also worth noting is that sometimes you can get additional bulbs that come in different colour temperatures, so maybe getting spare bulbs in different temperatures could prove useful, especially if one breaks.
Inspiration for an image can come from anywhere, music, films, other images, in fact any seemingly original image we take will have its roots bedded in some way to something else whether we consciously realise it or not. It's when we try to take control of this fact and capitalise on it that we are most pleased with the results. Rather than the 'spray and pray' approach where we may get a lucky shot, try instead to formalise an image before hand, like a brief. This could be as basic as sticking to a certain lighting style or colour, it's with these limits that we can be forced to push and adapt ideas and sometimes create our more original work.
The inspiration for my set of images came from a French film called Eden Log. This 2007 film directed by Franck Vestiel is full of very imaginative lighting ideas, from projections, very hard lighting, to light-play on varied textures. The base idea was the hard light coming up the arm to light the face, the core of the idea I have retained but tweaked it to fit within a commercial use of an alternative hair shot.