Photographers get inspiration from many places. One friend finds it in old master’s paintings; I get the inspiration for many of my images from the movies. Recently I watched (for the umpteenth time) Frank Capra’s 1937 classic Lost Horizon and was struck not just by the cinematography but by all of the still images used to illustrate a “making-of” video on the DVD that were shot using 4×5 film. This was truly the golden age of Hollywood still photography. All this was going through my head when I was making some images of my former muse Tia Stoneman who has the classic looks of a 40’s film star.
A Westcott Spiderlite TD6 with medium (24×32-inch) softbox was the main light. A was attached with fill provided by a 30-inch Sunlight Illuminator placed on camera left to kick back some light into the shadow side of the model’s face.
The Spiderlite provides smooth continuous light so that all of my exposures in this session were made in Program mod. Exposure for the image at right was 1/160 sec at f/5 and ISO 640. I used the EOS 50D’s exposure compensation feature to increase the exposure in one-third stop increments by looking at each image’s histogram on the camera’s preview screen. Exposure for this particular sequence of images was using Canon’s EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 lens at 140mm.
I wanted the pose to be somewhat stagy, like movie production shots of the ‘30s and 40s but I like to show the model the photographs on the camera’s LCD as we work, so she can see how she looks which invites suggestions to improve the pose. This kind of photography, like making movies, is collaborative and the more the model in involved in the process the better the results will be. I converted the color image file into black & white using the free Silver Efex Pro and a bit of soft focus using Vignette Blur filter that’s part of Color Efex Pro.
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