Zenfolio | Karl Shreeves | Sometimes It Takes Light to Make Night

Sometimes It Takes Light to Make Night

January 02, 2016  •  Leave a Comment


See this blog for more details about this image. Yes, this is a cliché image of Christmas caroler figurines. I like it, but I didn't set out to make a quasi-trite Christmas picture. That was just a by-product.


It started when I decided to check out some of my lighting kit, with the goal of using multiple strobes for a single shot with complex lighting.  I had no idea what I would shoot, but I wanted to use only speedlights (at least a half dozen), and leave my studio monolights boxed for the duration. This is backwards from a "real" shoot, where the image dictates the hardware. In this case, I wanted to see how my hardware integrates, and to give myself a puzzle that sharpens my lighting skills.


So, what to shoot? Stumped. But, my wife had set up this figurine scene for the holidays and suggested I shoot it. Problem solved.


On to the task: Researching with Google yielded about a billion images of Christmas caroler figurines grouped in flat light on mantles, but not the idealized image of carolers at night on Christmas Eve I envisioned. My wife had built the scene with snow, Christmas trees, howling dog and the obligatory Tiny Tim quote, but I'd have do the rest with lighting. In the middle of the day. In a well lit room.  The easier way would have been to wait until nightfall, but with the whole point being to challenge myself and use lots of lighting gear, I decided to do it the harder way: use light to create dark, or more specifically, to create a night Christmas look.


Without going into all the technical (leave me a message with your email address if you want the nitty-gritty), to light for night during the day, you need to use so much strobe power that you drown out the existing light. I started with multiple strobes to create the overall lighting on the figurines, but concentrated and feathered so the area around them fell into darkness. Then, I placed, aimed and gelled (colored) more until, eight speedlights later (Joe McNally would be proud), the scene looked somewhat like you might see on a fantasy nocturnal Yuletide stroll, or a least in a Nightmare Before Christmas.


Voilá, night created by light.






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