Lighting a superhero

I was in Sydney over Xmas 2017, catching up with family and various friends. As per my usual habit, I took way too much camera/lighting gear so I decided to make use of it so I could pretend I had justification for carting it all up there.

After shooting some cool photos of Lucy being a karaoke popstar in her very pink bedroom, I then wondered what I could do with her younger brother Tāne. As he likes superheroes, we decided to get him into one of his costumes and I started thinking about how I could light him in dramatic superhero style.

The photos that follow are the initial setup test shots and then some of the actual photos from the mini-shoot.

The first challenge was finding a space in their domestic home that I could make look cool. I noticed some wooden blinds in their lounge room and thought maybe they would work as a backdrop. Seeing the red and yellow colours of his costume, I thought the blinds might look cool with some yellow light to tie them together. I grabbed a speedlight on a stand, a yellow gel and a radio trigger and put them out on the back porch aimed at the blinds.

I wasn’t sure if this would work as it was mid-afternoon and there was bright sunlight out there. Would the gelled light be powerful enough to show up on the blinds or would it be overwhelmed by the sunlight?

This test shot showed the colour was going to work just fine.

All I need to do is adjust the angle of the blinds for better consistency…

This background is looking almost perfect now.

With my background looking good, I now setup a 60x60cm Godox softbox inside to light my superhero subject…

This shows that I will need to watch out for light spilling onto the blinds, washing out the cool yellow effect I wanted. As you can see, there were toys in the room I’d have to try and hide by shooting from the right angle.

Now I’m ready to introduce my superhero subject into the shot…

Awesome – this is working a treat

Moving the softbox away from the blinds helped control the light spilling onto them. I also added a grid to the softbox to keep it aimed only at him. There’s a lot of shadowing across the face but I’m cool with that, it gives me a little drama in the shot.

With the light working, it’s then just a case of working poses with the model…

This superhero isn’t shy in front of a camera

For this next shot I had his Dad holding a reflector at the right. I still have dramatic shadowing across the face but the reflected light makes it less black…

This is one of my fave shots from the shoot.

Turning him to face the light is less dramatic but there’s still fun shots to be had…

This shoot was about 15min of shooting time and perhaps 15-30min of setup time. Short and sweet.

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