A few weeks ago, I posted a “guess-how-I-lit-this” shot, and a few of you responded, both on the blog and on Facebook. The shot, as well as those included in this post, were created for a story on real forensic science work at Texas Tech University, for their alumni association’s publication, The Techsan. I have been waiting for this issue to come out, so I can post a few images from it (others will result in subsequent posts). Lately, I have been putting the Elinchrom Ranger Quadra kit through its paces, and I’ve just been waiting to release some of these images!
Dr. Robert Paine, a forensic anthropologist at the university, amazed me when we got to talking about the skull he is holding in the above image. To be brief, he described it as a multiple gunshot incident, and he explained to me that inferring from the hairline crack in the skull from the first shot, that it was definitely a homicide. I couldn’t do his explanation justice here, and in light of being accurate, I’ll leave it at that.
What I can explain, however, is the lighting! The idea for the story was to create edgy images, but not necessarily in the same light that you would see those characters on a CSI television show. That being said, it was important to interestingly tell the visual story of a science dealing with a certain unique character about it. The shot above is a composite of two images that I used to show the editor what was being shot, but both images were shot with exactly the same setup. The main light was a 39-inch Elinchrom Rotalux Octa placed behind, above, and to camera left of the subject. This kept the spill from invading the black background, which is essentially the black reflector up against a chalkboard. The second, “kicker” light on camera right was created by a Canon 580EX speedlite, gelled blue for the skull shot alone. It was powered less than the main light, used only as a tool to create an edge against the background and throw a little different color in to the mix.
I can’t ever leave the scene without a close-up, and it’s always good to take the subject’s facial characteristics in to consideration. Dr. Paine has a fairly unique face, and one rad beard. Same lighting, just a play on composition in the shoulders, and you have a quick and easy (and different) headshot.
Here’s a diagram photo (sorry for quality, iPhone pic):
As well as a backed out setup shot:
I have some more from this story, but I thought this would be a nice introduction to the lighting that went on. Simple, yet effective and dramatic!
Thanks to Dr. Robert Paine for allowing me to make a few portraits of him. It was incredibly interesting to hear him speak about what he does and how he does it!