Homecoming Shoot and Light Meter

2-light setup. Main light grided large softbox camera right at f8, Fill light bounce light camera left at F4.

2-light setup. Main light grided large softbox camera right at f8, Fill light bounce light camera left at F4.

Recently, I was asked by the Department of Tourism of my hometown to shoot for the upcoming beauty contest which happens annually as part of the activities for the town fiesta.  It’s not as extravagant as Miss Cebu but the feeling of being able to contribute to your home town makes me proud constituent.

I brought in my team from makeup artist to stylist to ensure that we’re going to make beautiful photos for the candidates. I did not expect so much from the candidates and surprisingly, they were even updated with Asia’s Next Top Model than me. Surely, social networks are responsible for this.One thing I realized during the shoot is my dependence with my light meter. When shooting with multiple setup, you can easily get lost in figuring out which light source is messing up. This happens midway on your shoot when fatigue starts to kick in.

In one of our setup, we wasted a precious 30min figuring out the problem and it turned out it was the reserve light that happens to be set to slave adding light where it was not needed. We figured it out by resetting everything and started measuring each and every head.

Although it is easy to asses the result by looking at the preview display, using a light meter ensures how much light is really reflected. In my experience, LCD preview can really be a problem at times especially if you use picture style which adjusts the jpeg file that is used for LCD display. With all the confusion, the numbers in the light meter will not lie. If there’s light there, then the numbers will show.

When working with light setup, a team of assistant will really give the photographer space to preserve the creative mood. When communicating with your assistant, the most effective way to achieve a certain light setup is to speak in specifics. For example, you can say, f8 on the main, f4 on the fill and f8 for the hair lights.

When you communicate your imagination into figures, it’s easy to understand and execute using a light meter, thus sparing you from additional stress in the set. Your lights man can do all the light testing  while you review your objectives and theme for the set.

Working with artificial lights is one essential part of photography. And just like many other parts of photography, mastering it takes a lot of shooting hours. Keep on shooting everyone.


Text and photos by Albert Pedrosa

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