Studio Werkz: Melded Light

Beauty Dishes are all the rage at the portrait studios.  Not a fav light of mine as I’ve never been a photographer of young 20-30yr hopefuls who want to not only look like Kim Kardashian, but BE her. The tight parabolic driven light helps put some enriching shadows for depth and yet keeps the boldness of the well-lit facial planes.  And although I don’t use one, it’s a simple light to set up as the light doesn’t ‘go everywhere’. Sort of like a little theatre in an ‘itty-bitty space’—(Genie- Aladdin).

Yet it has to be said, my favourite beauty light is a soft-melding light that pours itself over the subjects features and just stops short of creating deep dark shadows.  Depending on the size of the light source, (think great big grey sky, or perhaps early sunrise/late sunset reflecting from clouds), a melded light will also provide sufficient modelling to keep the 3D feel for a subject. Smaller light sources, full window light, or light coming in under tree-tops also will help with the modelling of the features.

Gone are the day of bulky tungsten lighting stands and burnt fingers changing bulbs, and gone are the those impossible ‘umbrella’ stands with their coloured foil linings. Yeshh!

The very early studio portraitists worked with an amazing medium. Available light.  The studio was always on the top floor of a building and was glass-roofed, and glass-sided. With wonderful arrangements of light and dark curtaining to control and direct light.

Here tis.


Now it is true to say, that I don’t wear such a suit to photograph birds, and I’ve significantly less hair than our studio operator, but look at the way the shadows go on for ever.
Even in this simple take.

EE and I feel to a bit of luck, good luck, instead of that other unmentionable kind. We located at Woodlands, on a bright sunny day, a feeding flock of Flame Robins. Accompanying them, at least in the areas I suspect was her ‘territory’ was a single, lone, female Red-capped Robin.
We were in no hurry, and she had her whole territory to work through.  A bit like going to a relative’s house and sitting in the kitchen talking while food preparation was going on.

At one point she flew behind a nearby tree, and then pounced on a snack, and popped back onto a close branch, and at the same time the sun came out and soft melded light cascaded under the trees and neatly framed her.

Enough of the sunshine hit the grasses behind to give her a pleasing backdrop and all I had to do was press the shutter.

Photography, that it could always be that simple.