Classmate Studio Portrait

Colleen McDevitt gets excited when she’s talking about the American Sign Language class she’s taking at MU. “I would even minor in it if I could,” she says. But unfortunately she won’t get that opportunity. According to McDevitt, MU is getting rid of the entire program next year. She says that the loss of the program is a shame because of the large deaf community in the area, including the Missouri School for the Deaf in Fulton.
(f/11, 1/125, 200 ISO, Daylight white balance)
Self Critique

When I went into the studio to shoot Colleen, I was planning on using high key lighting because she’s a happy, energetic person. This proved to be a good choice because I had a much easier time with high key lighting than with low key. I used three lights for my high key shots, each set at 800 watt-seconds. In an effort to overexpose the background, I set up two lights about 2 feet away from a white backdrop to double the amount of light on the background as compared to the light on Colleen. I set up a medium sized softbox on the boom and placed it about 2 feet in front of Colleen. I also set a reflector in front of Colleen a little below chest level to get rid of shadows under her face. An initial incident meter reading gave an exposure of f/22 at 125th and 200 ISO for Colleen’s face. My lens only goes up to f/22, and I wanted some room to change the aperture if necessary, so I dialed down all of the lights by 2 stops. An incident meter reading of Colleen’s face then gave an exposure of f/11 at 125th and 200 ISO. The background was at f/16 at the same settings.

It was a little difficult for me to get Colleen to act naturally in front of the camera. I’ve never done any studio work before, so I didn’t know what to do. After talking for a little while we both relaxed a bit. While Colleen was talking about her sign language class that she likes, I captured the image I’m using as my select. I think it does a good job at capturing her enthusiasm for the things she’s interested in. After reviewing my high key shots, I noticed that there was an area above Colleen’s head that was not quite as overexposed as the rest of the background was. The result is a little bit of gray in the background. In the future, I think I can avoid this by moving the side lights closer or giving them more power.

When trying to do a low key shot, I ran into more difficulties. I tried using a barn door light on the boom set at 400Ws as my single light. My intention was to use a very small amount of light, but it just ended up making Colleen look like a floating head in some of the pictures, which I don’t really like. The incident reading was f/4 at 125th and 200 ISO, but when I took a picture at that setting, Colleen’s face looked blown out to me. To combat this, I stopped my camera down to f/5.6, f/8, and f/10 for various images. Though the images looked better on my camera’s LCD screen, they are actually underexposed when viewed on my computer. I need to trust incident readings more and trust the LCD screen less. If anything, I should have looked at my histogram.

Studio Setup

For the record: An outtake

Ahhh!!! A floating head from my outtakes. (f/4, 1/100, 200 ISO, Daylight white balance)