Rainy Day Shooting
After a bit of discussion, we decided to go to an old parking garage to shoot. The neutral tones of the concrete would be great for reflecting available light, and the hard geometric structure would form a distinctive background for a strong male portrait. The parking garage we chose had huge open air areas with diffused directional sunlight streaming in.
The upper decks of the parking garage were empty, so we had a huge studio with natural light in which to work. What I was not expecting was the color available. Because the skies were so dark, the incandescent lights of the parking garage been triggered. When I white balanced the camera for the incandescent lights, the exterior became a deep glowing aquamarine color.
The effect was an illumination that reminds me of television screens and high powered, high tech executives. The pinks, lavenders and oranges were as unpredictable as they were stunning. Thankfully, I was shooting digital images. I ran through a lot of bytes. Luck played as big a roles as knowledge in my experimentation. Had I been shooting film, I would have floundered, or not had the quantity of shots necessary to cherry pick the good ones.
Probably my favorite photo of my son from the day's shooting is the one on the right. My son was still wearing a coat and tie from the Easter service at church. It was nice to have him dressed up for a photo. The lighting on his face is good, the bokeh is interesting, but not distracting, and the little serendipitous red blob on the margin holds the entire photo in balance.
Little Darling got into the act as well, using my son's Canon EOS. She had such a good time on the other side of the lens that I am considering upgrading her to a DSLR camera. If nothing else, having her shoot as well educates her as a model. While its difficult to take a bad photograph of her, having her know what the photographer is trying to capture through the lens can only make her better.
I took most of my shots with my 85mm prime auto focus lens with the 1.8 aperture cranked wide open. This lens has become a favorite of mine. On a DX camera it translates to a 105mm lens, but the real bonus is the backgrounds it gives. The 85 mm lens allows me to keep some distance, and since it has a large aperture, the depth of field is narrow enough to throw most backgrounds out of focus, while the auto focus keeps the subject sharp.
As the afternoon continued, I found that the interaction between my models produced some of the most interesting results. I swapped over to an 18-70mm zoom and opened the glass up to ƒ3.5, again wide open. I keep the ISO of the D-200 set to +1. The environmental studies that resulted surprised me.
I had not realized just how blue the light pouring into the garage was, nor did I realize how orange the artificial lights were. The complimentary combination of the two light sources led me to play with composition even more, integrating the light sources themselves into the balance.
For all of the intriguing nuances of the light though, adjustments had to be made and otherwise good photographs were discarded because of horrible lighting. A superb portrait of my son was in the folder to be culled because his face was a glowing red orange. I decided to convert the image to black and white, and then I rebalanced the tonality to allow the grey sky to become white. Voila! The orange light had the effect of a orange filter on black and white film.
I am looking forward to using the parking garage for portraiture again. I want to see how morning light, as well as afternoon light and a sunset illuminate subjects in it's dark recesses. I think I may have found one of my favorite locations to shoot photographs of people.